07/08/2015, 00.00
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Pope in Ecuador: society, like a family where "everyone contributes to a shared project", and no one is “discarded”

Raising awareness that the earth is a gift from God that must "be cultivated", but also "safeguarded", that the goods are meant for all, and "a social mortgage weighs on them ". Building society which is not only driven by technology and economics, but by gratuitousness, solidarity and subsidiarity.

Quito (AsiaNews) –  We must search for the common good by promoting "inclusion", by overcoming selfishness and our culture of waste, by becoming aware that the earth is a gift from God that we must "cultivate", but also "safeguard”. It means understanding that the goods of the earth are meant for all, and "a social mortgage weighs on them ", which should compel us to promote a culture where, like in any family, "everyone contributes to a shared project" fraternally thus creating a society of solidarity. In two separate meetings with the world of culture and civil society on the last day of his stay in Ecuador - this afternoon he leaves for Bolivia - Pope Francis gave guidelines on how to build a society that is driven not only by technology and the economy, but by gratuitousness, solidarity and subsidiarity.

In the first meeting, at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (picture of Pope’s arrival at University), he spoke to 30 thousand students.  His discourse was preceded by the performance of a piece of music by the Sinamune Orchestra, composed of young people with disabilities and Down syndrome.

Inspired by the parable of the sower, Francis pointed out that since Genesis God gives man not only his life, but he also gives him the earth, creation. "He also gives human beings a task, he gives them a mission. He invites them to be a part of his creative work and he says: “Cultivate it! I am giving you seeds, soil, water and sun. I am giving you your hands and those of your brothers and sisters. There it is, it is yours. It is a gift, a present, an offering. It is not something that can be bought or acquired. It precedes us and it will be there long after us."

“Our world is a gift given to us by God so that, with him, we can make it our own. God did not will creation for himself, so he could see himself reflected in it. On the contrary: creation is a gift to be shared. It is the space that God gives us to build up with one another, to build a “we”. The world, history, all of time – this is the setting in which we build this “we” with God, with others, with the earth. This invitation is always present, more or less consciously in our life; it is always there. But there is something else which is special. As Genesis recounts, after the word “cultivate”, another word immediately follows: “care”. Each explains the other. They go hand in hand. Those who do not cultivate do not care; those who do not care do not cultivate. We are not only invited to share in the work of creation and to cultivate it, to make it grow and to develop it. We are also invited to care for it, to protect it, to be its guardians. Nowadays we are increasingly aware of how important this is. It is no longer a mere recommendation, but rather a requirement”.

 “There is a relationship between our life and that of mother earth, between the way we live and the gift we have received from God”. “One thing is certain: we can no longer turn our backs on reality, on our brothers and sisters, on mother earth. It is wrong to turn aside from what is happening all around us, as if certain situations did not exist or have nothing to do with our life”.

It is a call to responsibility which “involves all of us, family, schools and teachers. How do we help our young people not to see a university degree as synonymous with higher status, money and social prestige. How can we help make their education a mark of greater responsibility in the face of today’s problems, the needs of the poor, concern for the environment?”.

“It is not enough to analyze and describe reality: there is a need to shape environments of creative thinking, discussions which develop alternatives to current problems, especially today. Faced with the globalization of a technocratic paradigm which tends to believe “that every increase in power means an increase of progress itself, an advance in security, usefulness, welfare and vigor; …an assimilation of new values into the stream of culture, as if reality, goodness and truth automatically flow from technological and economic power as such” (Laudato Si’, 105), it is urgent that we keep reflecting on and talking about our current situation. We need to ask ourselves about the kind of culture we want not only for ourselves, but for our children and our grandchildren. We have received this earth as an inheritance, as a gift, in trust. We would do well to ask ourselves: “What kind of world do we want to leave behind? What meaning or direction do we want to give to our lives? Why have we been put here? What is the purpose of our work and all our efforts?” (cf. Laudato Si’, 160)”.

"Many - he concluded - wonder why I talk so much of the needy, of the excluded, those left by the roadside. Simply because this reality and our response to this reality are at the heart of the Gospel "

At the second meeting in the church of St Francis, the oldest church in Latin America, the Pope addressed to representatives of civil society in various areas of culture, economics, industrial and rural entrepreneurship, volunteering and sports, as well a representative of indigenous peoples of the Amazon.

 “Our society – he noted - benefits when each person and social group feels truly at home.  In a family, parents, grandparents and children feel at home; no one is excluded.  If someone has a problem, even a serious one, even if he brought it upon himself, the rest of the family comes to his assistance; they support him.  His problems are theirs.  Should it not be the same in society?  Our relationships in society and political life, though, are often based on confrontation and the attempt to eliminate our opponents.  My position, my ideas and my plans will move forward if I can prevail over others and impose my will.  Is this the way a family should be?  In families, everyone contributes to the common purpose, everyone works for the common good, not denying each person’s individuality but encouraging and supporting it.  The joys and sorrows of each are felt by all.  That is what it means to be a family!  If only we could view our political opponents or neighbors in the same way we view our children or our spouse, mother or father!  Do we love our society?  Do we love our country, the community which we are trying to build?  Do we love it in the abstract, in theory?  Let us love it by our actions more than by our words!  In every person, in concrete situations, in our life together, love always leads to communication, never to isolation.”.

“This feeling can give rise to small gestures which strengthen personal bonds.  I have often spoken the importance of the family as the primary cell of society.  In the family, we find the basic values of love, fraternity and mutual respect, which translate into essential values for society as a whole: gratitude, solidarity and subsidiarity”.

“Parents know that all their children are equally loved, even though each has his or her own character.  But when children refuse to share what they have freely received, this relationship breaks down.  The love of their parents helps children to overcome their selfishness, to learn to live with others, to yield and be patient.  In the wider life of society we come to see that “gratuitousness” is not something extra, but rather a necessary condition of justice.  Who we are, and what we have, has been given to us so that we can place it at the service of others.  Our task is to make it bear fruit in good works.  The goods of the earth are meant for everyone, and however much someone may parade his property, it has a social mortgage.  In this way we move beyond purely economic justice, based on commerce, towards social justice, which upholds the fundamental human right to a dignified life.”.

“Out of the family’s experience of fraternity is born solidarity in society, which does not only consist in giving to those in need, but in feeling responsible for one another.  If we see others as our brothers and sisters, then no one can be left out or set aside”.

“Finally, the respect for others which we learn in the family finds social expression in subsidiarity.  To recognize that our choices are not necessarily the only legitimate ones is a healthy exercise in humility.  In acknowledging the goodness inherent in others, even with their limitations, we see the richness present in diversity and the value of complementarity.  Individuals and groups have the right to go their own way, even though they may sometimes make mistakes.  In full respect for that freedom, civil society is called to help each person and social organization to take up its specific role and thus contribute to the common good.  Dialogue is needed and is fundamental for arriving at the truth, which cannot be imposed, but sought with a sincere and critical spirit.  In a participatory democracy, each social group, indigenous peoples, Afro-Ecuadorians, women, civic associations and those engaged in public service are all indispensable participants in this dialogue.  The walls, patios and cloisters of this city eloquently make this point: rooted in elements of Incan and Caranqui culture, beautiful in their proportions and shapes, boldly and strikingly combining different styles, the works of art produced by the “Quito school” sum up that great dialogue, with its successes and failures, which is Ecuador’s history.  Today we see how beautiful it is.  If the past was marked by errors and abuses – how can we deny it! – we can say that the amalgamation which resulted radiates such exuberance that we can look to the future with great hope”.

“The Church – he concluded - wishes for her part to cooperate in the pursuit of the common good, through her social and educational works, promoting ethical and spiritual values, and serving as a prophetic sign which brings a ray of light and hope to all, especially those most in need”.

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