Pope calls for “a bridging project by peoples against the wall project of money”

Francis met the participants of the Third World Meeting of Popular Movements. He urged them not to give in to the fear that supports a system in which money rules "with the whip of fear, inequality” as well as “economic, social, cultural and military violence."


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis spoke Saturday afternoon to about 5,000 participants from 60 countries in the Third World Meeting of Popular Movements in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican.

In his long address, the pontiff stressed the “need for change” embodied in “a bridging project by peoples against the wall project of money,” a project that includes political action against the idol of money that “instead of serving, rules, tyrannise, and terrorises humanity” which go against the social doctrine of the Church.

Francis first said that popular movements are "sowers of change, promoters of a process in which millions of small and large actions converge creatively connected". Faced with the "globalisation of indifference,” some "inescapable tasks are necessary to go forward towards a human alternative to the globalisation of indifference: 1. put the economy at the service of people; 2. build peace and justice; 3. defend Mother Earth ".

In seeking these objectives, popular movements demand "decent work for those who are excluded from the labour market, land for peasants and indigenous peoples, housing for homeless families, urban integration for working class districts, an end to discrimination and violence against women and the new forms of slavery, the end of all wars, organised crime and repression, freedom of expression and democratic communication, and science and technology at the service of the peoples."

"I also heard about meetings and workshops held in various countries, where the discussions have multiplied in accordance with the reality of each community. This is very important because the real solutions to the current problems will not come from one, three or a thousand conferences. They must be the result of a collective discernment that matures in the territories along with the brothers, a discernment that turns into transformational action according to ‘the places, the times and the people,' as Saint Ignatius used to say."

“A lot of proposals, a lot of creativity, a lot of hope in your voice that perhaps might have more reason to complain, remain blocked in conflicts, [or] fall into the temptation of negativism. Yet look ahead, think, discuss, propose and act. I congratulate you, I accompany you, I ask you to go on opening paths and to struggle. This gives me strength, gives us strength. I believe that our dialogue, which joins the efforts of so many millions of people who work every day for justice in the world, is taking root."

Terror and walls

"However, this germination, which is slow, which takes its time like all gestations, is threatened by the speed of a destructive mechanism that operates in the opposite direction. There are powerful forces that can neutralise the maturation process of change that can move from the primacy of money to putting human beings back in the centre. The 'invisible thread' that we talked about in Bolivia, the unjust structure that links all the exclusions that you suffer, can consolidate itself and become a whip, an existential whip that, as in the Egypt of the Old Testament, makes slaves, steals freedom, strikes without mercy and constantly threatens others in order to slaughter everyone like cattle as far as deified money desires. Who rules then? Money. How does it govern? With the whip of fear, inequality, economic, social, cultural and military violence that always generates more violence in a downward spiral that seems to never end. How much pain, how much fear! As I said recently, there is a basic terrorism that comes from the global control of money on earth and it threatens all of humanity. This basic terrorism is feeding derivative terrorisms like narcoterrorism, state terrorism, and what some mistakenly call ethnic or religious terrorism. No people, no religion is terrorist. True, there are small fundamentalist groups on all sides, but terrorism begins when "You’ve driven out of the marvel of creation, man and woman, and put money in their place. " (In-flight press conference of his holiness Pope Francis from Poland to Rome, 31 July 2016). This system is a terrorist."

"No tyranny exists without exploiting our fears. Hence, every tyranny is terrorist. And when this terror, which was sown in the peripheries with massacres, looting, oppression and injustice, explodes in the centres, taking on different forms of violence, including odious and cowardly attacks, those citizens who still retain some rights are tempted by the false security of physical or social walls. Walls that enclose some and exile others. Walled in and terrified citizens on the one hand, and excluded, exiled, even more terrified citizens on the other. Is this the life that God our Father wants for his children?"

"Fear is fed, manipulated . . . In fact, fear, as well as being good business for merchants of weapons and death, weakens us, destabilises us, destroys our psychological and spiritual defences, numbs us to the suffering of others and in the end makes us cruel. When we hear that someone is celebrating the death of a young man who has perhaps gone down the wrong path, when we see someone prefer war to peace, when we see xenophobia spread, when we realise that intolerant proposals are gaining ground; behind such cruelty that seems to grow to a mass level stands the cold breath of fear. I call upon you to pray for all those who are afraid, let us pray that God may give them courage, and that in this Year of Mercy He may soften our hearts. Mercy is not easy, not easy . . . it requires courage. This is why Jesus told us: ‘do not be afraid’ (Mt 14:27), for mercy is the best antidote to fear. It is much better than antidepressants and antianxiety agents. It is much more effective than walls, gratings, alarms and weapons. And it is free: it is a gift from God. Dear brothers and sisters, all walls fall. Let us not be fooled."

Unemployment, atrophy of the socio-economic system

"Sometimes I think that when you, the organised poor, invent your work, setting up a cooperative, re-claiming a bankrupt factory, recycling the waste of consumer society, tackling the inclement weather to sell something in a square, claiming a piece of land to farm to feed the hungry, you are imitating Jesus, trying to heal, albeit only a little bit, precariously even, the atrophy of the existing socio-economic system, which is unemployment. I am not surprised that you too are sometimes under surveillance or persecuted, nor does it surprise me that the self-righteous do not care what you say."

In the cry of the 3-T (tierra, techo, trabajo, i.e. land, roof, work), there is "a plan that aims for integral human development. [. . .] The opposite of development, one might say, is atrophy, paralysis. We need to help heal the world from its moral atrophy. This atrophied system is able to provide some cosmetic 'implants' that are not real development: economic growth, technological progress, increased 'efficiency' to produce the things we buys use and throw away, caught up in a dizzying spiral of waste. . . . But this does not allow for full human development, development that is not reduced to consumption, that is not reduced to the welfare of a few, that includes every nation and people in the fullness of their dignity, fraternally enjoying the wonder of creation. This is the development we need: humane, integral, and respectful of creation."

"What happens in the world today is that, when a bank goes bankrupt, outrageous sums immediately appear to save it, but when humanity goes bankrupt not even a thousandth part of that is found to save those brothers and sisters who are suffering a lot? Thus, the Mediterranean has become a cemetery, not just the Mediterranean ... many cemeteries next to walls, walls stained with innocent blood."

"This really is a world problem. No one should be forced to flee their homeland. But the evil is double when, in front of these terrible circumstances, migrants are thrown in the clutches of traffickers in order to cross borders; and it is triple when coming to the land where they thought to find a better future, they are despised, exploited and even enslaved. This can be seen in many corners in hundreds of cities. I ask you to do all you can and never forget that Jesus, Mary and Joseph experienced the tragic fate of refugees. I ask you to exercise that special solidarity that exists between those who have suffered. You know how to re-claim factories from bankruptcy, recycle what others throw away, create jobs, farm the land, build housing, integrate segregated neighbourhoods and complain non-stop like the widow of the Gospel that insistently demanded justice (cf. Lk 18,1-8). Perhaps, by your example and insistence, some states and international organisations will open their eyes and take the appropriate steps to welcome and fully integrate all those who, for one reason or another, seek refuge away from home. And also to address the root causes for which thousands of men, women and children are expelled each day from their native land.

"Leading by example and complaining is one way of doing politics, and this brings me to the second theme you have discussed in your meeting: the relationship between the people and democracy. A relationship that should be natural and fluid, but runs the risk of becoming blurred beyond recognition. The gap between peoples and our current forms of democracy continues to widen because of huge economic and media power groups that seem to dominate them. Popular movements, I know, are not political parties, and let me tell you that, for the most part, this is your richness because you express a different, dynamic and vital form of social participation in public life. But do not be afraid to get into great discussions, in Politics with a capital letter. Quoting again Paul VI, "Politics is a demanding manner – but not the only one – of living the Christian commitment to the service of others." (Ap. Let. Octogesima adveniens, 14 May, 1971, 46) ".

"You, organisations of the excluded and many organisations from other sectors of society, you are called to revitalise, [and] re-establish democracies that are going through a real crisis. Do not fall into the temptation of the pigeon-hole that reduces you to secondary actors or, worse, to mere administrators of existing misery. In this time of paralysis, disorientation and destructive proposals, participating as protagonists of the peoples who seek the common good can defeat, with God’s help, the false prophets who exploit fear and despair, who sell magical formulas of hatred and cruelty or selfish well-being and illusory security. We know that ‘As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.’ (Ap. Ex. Evangelii gaudium, 202). For this reason, I said and I repeat, "the future of humanity is not only in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and elites. ‘It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize. It is in their hands, which can guide with humility and conviction this process of change’ (Address to the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, 9 July 2015). The Church too can and must, without claiming to have a monopoly on the truth, decide and act, especially in front of ‘situations of deep hurt and dramatic suffering in which values, ethics, social sciences and faith all enter into play’ "(Statement to judges' summit on human trafficking and organised crime, Vatican, 3 June 2016).”

"I would like, in conclusion, ask you to continue to oppose fear with a life of service, solidarity and humility in favour of the peoples and especially those who suffer. You might go wrong many times, we all make mistakes, but if we persevere on this path, sooner or later, we shall see the fruits. And I insist: the best remedy against terror is love. Love heals everything."

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