By Tony Magliano
Clearly siding with the world’s poor and marginalized in a video message for the recent Fourth World Meeting of Popular Movements, Pope Francis boldly declared, “Seeing you reminds me that we are not condemned to repeat or to build a future based on exclusion and inequality, rejection or indifference; where the culture of privilege is an invisible and insurmountable power.”
Reflecting on the many crises around the globe, the pope continued, “Every person, every organization, every country, and the whole world, needs to look for moments to reflect, discern and choose, because returning to the previous mindsets would be truly suicidal and, if I may press the point a little, ecocidal and genocidal.”
Yes, Holy Father, please press the point!
Ecocidal and genocidal are truly accurate words to describe what most of those who hold corporate, industrial, economic and political power are inflicting on our earth-home and all of humanity – especially upon the poor and vulnerable of this generation and generations yet unborn.
And ecocidal and genocidal also accurately describe the attitude of all the rest of us who remain indifferent to the crises now confronting us.
“The pandemic has laid bare the social inequalities that afflict our peoples,” said Francis.
The pandemic has forced us to at least glimpse at some of the longstanding grave, highly immoral inequalities between rich and poor nations as evidenced in vaccine distribution.
Continuing his message to the popular movements – who advocate for the poor and vulnerable like themselves – Pope Francis said, “We have all suffered the pain of lockdown, but as usual you have had the worst of it.”
Continuing his broadening of the term pandemic, the Holy Father says, “And speaking of pandemics, we have stopped questioning the scourge of the food crisis. … Annual deaths from hunger may exceed those of COVID. But this does not make the news. It does not generate empathy.”
Instead, the pope hopefully reflected, “If all those who out of love struggled together against the pandemic could also dream of a new world together, how different things would be!”
But resistance to just and loving changes run deep, Francis says. “They are what the Social Teaching of the Church calls structures of sin, these too we are called to change, and we cannot overlook them in the moment of thinking of how to act.
“Personal change is necessary, but it is also indispensable to adjust our socio-economic models so that they have a human face, because many models have lost it.”
In the name of God, Francis straightforwardly challenges many of the “structures of sin.”
“In the name of God, I ask the great extractive industries – mining, oil, forestry, real estate, agribusiness – to stop destroying forests, wetlands and mountains, to stop polluting rivers and seas, to stop poisoning food and people.”
Continuing with his list of bold prophetic statements, each too beginning with “In the name of God,” Pope Francis challenges:
- food corporations to end monopolistic systems that keep many people hungry;
- arms manufacturers and dealers to completely stop their unholy work;
- technology corporations to stop facilitating hate speech, fake news, conspiracy theories;
- the media to stop promoting post-truth, disinformation and attraction to dirt and scandal;
- powerful countries to stop aggression, blockades and unilateral sanctions, military invasions and occupations.
“We have already seen how unilateral interventions, invasions and occupations end up.”
As a guiding Gospel-based light out of all of the darkness, Pope Francis urges us to read, study, pray and apply Catholic social teaching to all of the life and death issues facing humanity.
And to reap the full inspiring richness of Pope Francis’ message to the Fourth World Meeting of Popular Movements, please read it in its entirety.
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at email@example.com.