ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS FATHER FRANCIS
TO A GROUP OF THE PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR LATIN AMERICA
Monday, March 4, 2019
I am grateful for the words of Cardinal Ouellet, and I began this intervention by telling them "dear friends", and not by a mere rhetorical resource, but because when thinking of the initiative they have undertaken, I think it may be appropriate to remember a line from chapter 15 of the Gospel of St. John , in which Jesus says to all: «From now on, I will no longer call you servants, because the servant does not know what his master does. From now on I will call them friends, because I have made known to them everything I heard from my Father "(Jn 15,15).
And Jesus founds the Church with the air of a friendship, as an act of love, as a gesture of compassion for our fragile and limited condition. And when incarnating, Jesus Christ embraces our humanity, embraces our "I", sometimes selfish, so often fearful, to give us his strength and show us that we are not alone in the path of life, that we have a friend who accompanies us. Thanks to this, each time we say "I" we can say "we", that is, we are a community with Him. We have a "friend" who sustains us, invites us to propose that same friendship to all others and expand the experience of "Church".
And this truth has many implications in different areas, but it is especially important for those who discover that they are called to be responsible for the promotion of the common good.
Being a Catholic in politics does not mean being a recruit from a group, an organization or a party, but living within a friendship, within a community. If you do not discover the need in your heart to belong to a community of truly ecclesial missionary discipleship, in which you can experience the experience of being loved by God, you run the risk of throwing yourself a little alone to the challenges of power, of strategies, of action, and end up in the best of cases with a good political position but only, sad and with the risk of being manipulated.
Jesus invites us to be his friends. If we open ourselves to this opportunity our fragility will not diminish. The circumstances in which we live will not change immediately. However, we can look at reality in a new way, we can live with renewed passion the challenges in the construction of the common good. Let's not forget that entering politics means betting on social friendship.
In Latin America we have a saint who knew well about these things. He knew how to live the faith as friendship and commitment to his people to give his life for him. He saw many lay people who wanted to change things but who often went astray with false ideological answers. With his mind and heart set on Jesus and guided by the Social Doctrine of the Church, Saint Arnold Romero said, and I quote:
"The Church can not be identified with any organization, even with those that qualify and feel Christian. The Church is not the organization, nor the organization is the Church. If the dimensions of the faith and the political vocation have grown in a Christian, the tasks of faith and a determined political task can not be simply identified, much less Church and organization can be identified. It can not be affirmed that only within a determined organization can the demand of faith be developed. Not every Christian has a political vocation, nor is the political channel the only one that leads to a task of justice. There are also other ways of translating faith into a work of justice and the common good. The Church or its ecclesial symbols can not be required to become mechanisms of political activity. To be a good politician you do not need to be a Christian, but the Christian involved in political activity has an obligation to confess his faith. And if a conflict between loyalty to their faith and loyalty to the organization arises in this field, the true Christian should prefer his faith and demonstrate that his struggle for justice is for the justice of the Kingdom of God, and not another. justice ». Up to here Romero.
These words pronounced on August 6, 78, so that the lay faithful were free and not slaves, so they could rediscover the reasons why it is worth doing politics but from the gospel, overcoming ideologies. Politics is not the mere art of administering power, resources or crises. Politics is not a mere search for efficiency, strategy and organized action. Politics is a vocation for service, a lay diaconate that promotes social friendship for the generation of the common good. Only in this way does politics help the people to become protagonists of their history and thus avoid the so-called "ruling classes" believe that they are the ones who can settle everything. The famous exaggerated liberal adage, all for the people, but nothing with the people. Making politics can not be reduced to techniques and human resources and capacity for dialogue and persuasion; This does not work alone. The politician is in the midst of his people and collaborates with this means or others to make the people who are sovereign the protagonist of their history.
In Latin America and all over the world we are currently experiencing a true "change of epoch"  - said Aparecida - which requires us to renew our languages, symbols and methods. If we continue doing the same thing that was done a few decades ago, we will relapse into the same problems that we need to overcome in the social and political terrain. I do not mean here simply to improve some strategy of "marketing" but to follow the method that God himself chose to approach us: the Incarnation. Assume. Assuming all that is human - less sin - Jesus Christ announces to us the liberation that our hearts and our peoples long for. And then you as young Catholics dedicated to various political activities will be the vanguard in the way of accepting the languages and signs, the concerns and hopes, of the most emblematic sectors of the change of the Latin American era. And they will have to look for the paths of the most appropriate political process to carry out.
Which are the most emblematic or significant sectors in the change of Latin American era? In my opinion there are three of them, plus they must have listened because Carriquiri is here, so I copied it to him. In my opinion there are three through which it is possible to reactivate the social energies of our region so that it is faithful to its identity and, at the same time, so that it builds a future project: women, young people and the poorest.
First, women. The Pontifical Commission for Latin America last year dedicated a plenary session precisely to women as a pillar in the building of the Church and society . In addition, the bishops of CELAM in Bogotá in 2017 reminded them that "hope in Latin America has a feminine face" . Secondly, young people, because they inhabit the dissatisfaction and rebelliousness that are necessary to promote true changes and not merely cosmetic. Jesus Christ, eternally young, is present in their sensitivity, in theirs, in their face and in their concerns. And third, the poorest and most marginalized. Because in the preferential option for them the Church manifests her fidelity as Christ's wife no less than on the field of orthodoxy .
Women, young people and the poor are, for various reasons, places of privileged encounter with the new emerging cultural sensitivity and with Jesus Christ. They are protagonists of the change of time and subjects of true hope. Their presence, their joys and, especially, their suffering are a strong wake-up call for those who are responsible for public life. In the response to their needs and demands, the true construction of the common good is played to a large extent. They constitute a place of verification of the authenticity of the Catholic commitment in politics. If we do not want to get lost in a sea of empty words, let us always look at the faces of women, young people and the poor. Let's look at them as subjects of change and not as mere objects of assistance. The interpellation of their eyes will help us to correct the intention and to rediscover the method to act "inculturately" in our different contexts. To assume, and to assume in concrete, all this problematic means to be concrete and in politics when one deviates from the concrete being it also deviates from the political conduction.
A new presence of Catholics in politics is necessary in Latin America. A "new presence" that not only implies new faces in the electoral campaigns but, mainly, new methods that allow to forge alternatives that are simultaneously critical and constructive. Alternatives that always look for the possible good, even if it is modest. Flexible alternatives but with clear Christian social identity. And for that, it is necessary to value in a new way our people and the popular movements that express their vitality, their history and their most authentic struggles. Doing politics inspired by the gospel from the people in movement becomes a powerful way to clean up our fragile democracies and to open the space to reinvent new representative instances of popular origin.
Catholics know well that "in concrete situations, and taking into account the solidarity that each one lives, it is necessary to recognize a legitimate variety of possible options. The same Christian faith can lead to different commitments. " Therefore, I invite you to live your faith with great freedom. Never believing that there is a single form of political commitment for Catholics. A Catholic party. Perhaps this was a first intuition in the awakening of the social doctrine of the Church that over the years was adjusted to what really has to be the vocation of the politician today in society, I say Christian. The Catholic party is no longer there. In politics it is better to have a polyphony in politics inspired by the same faith and built with multiple sounds and instruments, than a boring monochord melody apparently correct but homogenizing and neutralizing - and of yapa - quieta. No, it's not going.
I am glad that the Academy of Catholic Leaders was born and expanded in several Latin American countries. I am glad that you are simultaneously seeking faithfulness to the gospel, plurals in partisan terms and in communion with your Pastors.
Within a few years, in 2031, we will celebrate the V Centennial of the Guadalupano Event and, in 2033, the second millennium of the Redemption. May God from now on all of you can work in spreading the social doctrine of the Church in order to arrive at the celebration of these dates with real concrete lay fruits of missionary discipleship. I like to repeat that we have to always take care of cultural colonizations, no, ideological colonizations, there are economic ones because societies have a dimension of "colony"; that is, to be open to colonization. Then defend ourselves from everything. And in that respect I allow myself an intuition. You will have to adjust and correct or not, but it is an intuition that I leave to you, but if you want to make a mistake on the road to Latin America, the word is "miscegenation". Latin America was born mestizo, mestiza will be preserved, only mestiza will grow and that will be their destiny.
San Juan Diego, poor and excluded indigenous, was precisely the small and humble instrument that Santa María de Guadalupe chose for a great mission that would give origin to the pluriform face of the great Latin American nation. We entrust ourselves to his intercession so that when the forces are lacking in the struggle for our people, let us remember that it is precisely in the weakness that the strength of God can do his best work (cf. 2 Co 12,9). And may the Morenita del Tepeyac never forget our beloved "Patria Grande", that is Latin America, a great Homeland in gestation, that never forget our families and those who suffer the most. And please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.
 S. Óscar Arnulfo Romero, Homily, August 6, 1978.
 Cf. V General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate, Aparecida, 44.
 Cf. Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Woman pillar of the edification of the Church and society in Latin America, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 2018.
 Francisco, Address to the Steering Committee of CELAM, September 7, 2017.
 Cf. S. John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49.
 S. Paul VI, Octogesima adveniens, 50.
FULL TEXT and Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation