TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE VIRTUAL SEMINAR
"LATIN AMERICA: CHURCH, POPE FRANCIS AND THE SCENARIOS OF THE PANDEMIC"
Thursday, November 19, 2020
I greet the participants in this virtual seminar entitled "Latin America: Church, Pope Francis and the scenarios of the pandemic", whose objective is to reflect and analyze the pandemic situation of covid-19 in Latin America, its consequences and, above all, the possible lines of action and support in solidarity that must be developed by all those who are part of and weave the beauty and hope of the continent. I thank the organizers for this initiative and I hope that it will inspire paths, awaken processes, create alliances and give impetus to all the mechanisms necessary to guarantee a dignified life for our peoples, especially the most excluded, through the experience of fraternity and the building of social friendship. When I say the most excluded, I don't mean it in the sense of giving alms to the most excluded, or as a gesture of charity, no, I say it as a hermeneutic key. From there we have to start, from every human periphery, from each one, if we don't start there, we will be wrong. And this is perhaps the first purification of thought that we must do.
The Covid pandemic has amplified and highlighted even more the socio-economic problems and injustices that already severely afflicted all of Latin America, and the poor with greater severity.
To the inequalities and discrimination, which increase the social gap, are added the difficult conditions in which the sick and many families who are going through moments of uncertainty and suffer situations of social injustice. And this is evident when it is noted that not everyone has the necessary resources to adopt the elementary measures of protection against covid-19: a safe roof where social distancing can be implemented, water and sanitary products to sanitize and disinfect environments, a job sure that it guarantees access to services, just to mention the most essential ones. I think we need to keep this in mind. It is to be concrete. Not only as a protective measure - as I said earlier - but also as facts that should concern us. Does everyone have a secure roof? Does everyone have access to water? Do they have products to sanitize and disinfect environments? Do they have a secure job? The pandemic has made our pre-existing vulnerabilities even more visible.
Right now I'm also thinking of the brothers and sisters who, in addition to suffering the impact of the pandemic, sadly see that the ecosystem around them is in serious danger due to the forest fires that are destroying vast areas such as the Pantanal and the Amazon, which are the lungs of Latin America and the world.
We are aware that we will continue to experience the devastating effects of the pandemic for a long time, especially in our economies, which require solidarity attention and creative proposals to alleviate the burden of the crisis. In the Kingdom of God, which already begins in this world, bread reaches everyone and advances, social organization is based on contributing, sharing and distributing, not on possessing, excluding and accumulating. I think these two triples should mark the pace of our thinking a little. In the Kingdom of God, bread reaches everyone and advances, social organization is based on contributing, sharing and distributing, not on possessing, excluding and accumulating. Therefore we are all called, individually and collectively, to carry out our work or mission with responsibility, transparency and honesty.
The pandemic has shown the best and worst of our peoples and the best and worst of every person. Now more than ever it is necessary to regain awareness of our common belonging. The virus reminds us that the best way to take care of ourselves is by learning to take care of and protect those close to us: neighborhood awareness, people's awareness, region awareness, common home awareness. We know that, alongside the covid-19 pandemic, there are other social ills - the lack of a roof, the lack of land and the lack of work, the three famous T's ( techo , tierra , trabajo ) - which serve as indicators and require a generous response and immediate attention.
Faced with this gloomy landscape, the Latin American peoples teach us that they are peoples with soul who have been able to face crises with courage and have been able to generate voices that, crying out in the desert, have smoothed the paths of the Lord (cf. Mk 1,3). Please don't let hope be stolen! The path of solidarity as justice is the best expression of love and closeness. We can come out of these crises better, as many of our brothers and sisters have testified in the daily gift of their lives and in the initiatives that the People of God have generated.
We have seen "the working power of the Spirit poured out and molded in courageous and generous dedications" ( Extraordinary moment of prayer in time of epidemic , March 27, 2020). On this point I also address those who exercise political responsibilities and I allow myself, once again, to invite them to rehabilitate politics, which "is a very high vocation, is one of the most precious forms of charity, because it seeks the common good". As I said in the recent encyclical Brothers all : «Recognizing every human being as a brother or sister and seeking a social friendship that includes everyone are not mere utopias. They require the decision and the ability to find effective paths that ensure their real possibility. Any commitment in this direction becomes a lofty exercise of charity. Because an individual can help a person in need, but when he joins with others to give life to social processes of fraternity and [social processes] of justice for all, he enters the "field of the broadest charity, of political charity". It is a question of progressing towards a social and political order whose soul is social charity "( n. 180 ).
This requires all of us who have a leading role to learn the art of meeting and not to favor or endorse or use mechanisms that make this serious crisis an electoral and social tool. The depth of the crisis proportionally requires the stature of the political-ruling class, capable of looking up and guiding and orienting legitimate differences in the search for viable solutions for our peoples. The only thing that discrediting the other achieves is to undermine the possibility of finding agreements that help alleviate, in our communities, but especially for the most excluded, the effects of the pandemic. And we have, in Latin America, I don't know if everywhere, but in much of Latin America, a very great capacity to progress in discrediting the other. Who pays for this discrediting process? The people pay for it, we progress in discrediting the other at the expense of the poorest, at the expense of the people. It is time that the distinctive trait of those who have been chosen by their peoples to govern them be placed at the service of the common good and not that the common good be placed at the service of their interests. We all know the dynamics of the corruption that goes in this direction. And this is also true for men and women of the Church; because the internal ecclesiastical ones are a real leprosy that makes the Gospel sick and kills. It is time that the distinctive trait of those who have been chosen by their peoples to govern them be placed at the service of the common good and not that the common good be placed at the service of their interests. We all know the dynamics of the corruption that goes in this direction. And this is also true for men and women of the Church; because the internal ecclesiastical ones are a real leprosy that makes the Gospel sick and kills. It is time that the distinctive trait of those who have been chosen by their peoples to govern them be placed at the service of the common good and not that the common good be placed at the service of their interests. We all know the dynamics of the corruption that goes in this direction. And this is also true for men and women of the Church; because the internal ecclesiastical ones are a real leprosy that makes the Gospel sick and kills.
I urge you that, driven by the light of the Gospel, you continue to go out together with all people of good will in search of those who ask for help, in the manner of the Good Samaritan, embracing the weakest and building - it is a very exploited phrase, but I say it the same - building a new civilization, since “good, as well as love, justice and solidarity, are not achieved once and for all; they must be conquered every day "( Brothers all , n. 11).
Faced with these great challenges, we ask the Virgin of Guadalupe that our Latin American land does not " desmadre ", that is, it does not lose the memory of its mother, that the crisis, far from separating us, helps us to recover and enhance the awareness of this common hybrid that makes us brothers and makes us children of the same Father.
It will do us good to remember once again that unity is greater than conflict. May her mantle, her mantle of Mother and Woman, repair us as one people who, fighting for justice, can say: "He has helped Israel, his servant, remembering his mercy, as he promised our fathers" ( Lk 1 : 54-55). Thanks.
from L'Osservatore Romano , Year CLX, num. 269, 21/11/2020
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