01/17/2018, 17.48
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Pope in Chile: unity is not about being the same, but about reconciling diversity

Francis celebrated Mass dedicated to the progress of peoples in a region where the Mapuche people still view themselves as victims of oppression and discrimination that have reduced their number. "The unity that our peoples need" comes from their recognition and solidarity. We “must abandon the notion that there are higher or lower cultures.”

Temuco (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis led the Mass this morning (10 am, local time) in Temuco, some 600 kilometres south of Chile’s capital of Santiago. Some 200,000 people took part in the event amid drums, horns and traditional indigenous musical instruments, this according to organisers.

In his homily, the Holy Father focused on building unity through dialogue, where unity does not mean uniformity, because what Jesus asked for were “the riches that each people has to offer” based on a “reconciled diversity” that “will not allow personal or community wrongs” or accept the notion of “higher or lower cultures”.

The concept of unity has special meaning in this region of southern Chile, home to the Mapuche people who still feel victims of oppression and discrimination and whose numbers has been reduced to a few tens of thousands. Yet, they welcomed the pontiff in their own language (Mari, Mari: good morning), as Francis greeted them at the beginning of the service.

The pope dedicated the celebration to the progress of peoples, “for all those who suffered and died, and for those who daily bear the burden of those many injustices.  The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross bears all the sin and pain of our peoples, in order to redeem it.”

“One of the main temptations we need to resist is that of confusing unity with uniformity.  Jesus does not ask his Father that all may be equal, identical, for unity is not meant to neutralize or silence differences.  Unity is not an idol or the result of forced integration; it is not a harmony bought at the price of leaving some people on the fringes.  The richness of a land is born precisely from the desire of each of its parts to share its wisdom with others.  Unity can never be a stifling uniformity imposed by the powerful, or a segregation that does not value the goodness of others.  The unity sought and offered by Jesus acknowledges what each people and each culture are called to contribute to this land of blessings.  Unity is a reconciled diversity, for it will not allow personal or community wrongs to be perpetrated in its name.  We need the riches that each people has to offer, and we must abandon the notion that there are higher or lower cultures.”

“The unity that our people need requires that we listen to one another, but even more importantly, that we esteem one another.  ‘This is not just about being better informed about others, but rather about reaping what the Spirit has sown in them’.  This sets us on the path of solidarity as a means of weaving unity, a means of building history.  The solidarity that makes us say: We need one another, and our differences so that this land can remain beautiful!  It is the only weapon we have against the ‘deforestation’ of hope.  That is why we pray: Lord, make us artisans of unity.”

“If unity is to be built on esteem and solidarity, then we cannot accept any means of attaining it. There are two kinds of violence that, rather than encouraging the growth of unity and reconciliation, actually threaten them.  First, we have to be on our guard against coming up with ‘elegant’ agreements that will never be put into practice.  Nice words, detailed plans – necessary as these are – but, when unimplemented, end up ‘erasing with the elbow, what was written by the hand’.  This is one kind of violence, because it frustrates hope. 

“In the second place, we have to insist that a culture of mutual esteem may not be based on acts of violence and destruction that end up taking human lives.  You cannot assert yourself by destroying others, because this only leads to more violence and division.  Violence begets violence, destruction increases fragmentation and separation.  Violence eventually makes a most just cause into a lie.  That is why we say ‘no to destructive violence’ in either of its two forms.

“Those two approaches are like the lava of a volcano that wipes out and burns everything in its path, leaving in its wake only barrenness and desolation.  Let us instead seek the path of active non-violence, ‘as a style of politics for peace’.  Let us seek, and never tire of seeking, dialogue for the sake of unity. That is why we cry out: Lord, make us artisans of your unity. 

“All of us, to a certain extent, are people of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7).  All of us are called to ‘the good life’ (Küme Mongen), as the ancestral wisdom of the Mapuche people reminds us.  How far we have to go, and how much we still have to learn! Küme Mongen, a deep yearning that not only rises up from our hearts, but resounds like a loud cry, like a song, in all creation.  Therefore, brothers and sisters, for the children of this earth, for the children of their children, let us say with Jesus to the Father: may we too be one; make us artisans of unity.”

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