In English, it translates roughly as: “Work, Home and Land.” A special emphasis was placed on the care of creation, migrants and refugees.
At its heart, the congress gathers international NGOs to discuss modern challenges facing the poor and marginalized. The Vatican hosted the First World Meeting of the Popular Movements in October 2014, and Pope Francis addressed the Second World Meeting in Bolivia during his 2015 tour of South America.
Before the Pope’s arrival, participants sang, watched videos, listened to various reflections and heard testimonies surrounding the topics of small farmers, the care of creation, families in difficulty and the centrality of the human person.
Upon his arrival he was welcomed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Also in attendance is the former president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica.
In his speech, the Pope stressed the need to promote “love and bridges” as a remedy for the fear and walls that increasingly go up in a world marked by conflict and inequality.
He recalled the biblical scene in which one day on the Sabbath, the disciples were hungry and picked ears of wheat to eat. Although the Pharisees got angry because they were working on the Sabbath, “in the face of hunger, Jesus prioritizes the dignity of the children of God over a formalistic, accommodating and interested interpretation of the norm.”
“He faced hypocritical and sufficient thought with humble intelligence of the heart which always prioritizes the human being and rejects certain logics that obstruct their freedom to live, love and serve their neighbor,” he said.
In healing a man’s hand later that same day, Jesus angered the Pharisees even more. However, the hand is a sign of work, the Pope said, noting that by healing him, “Jesus returned to this man the ability to work and with that returned his dignity.”
“How many atrophied hands, how many people deprived of the dignity of work because the hypocrites defend unjust systems and are opposed to healing,” he said.
Francis said this is a project that ultimately aims at integral human development, and noted that Cardinal Turkson will as of January be heading a new Vatican department with the same name.
On the other hand, the opposite of development, he said, “is atrophy, paralysis. We have to help so that the world heals from its moral atrophy.”
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“This atrophied system can offer some certain cosmetic implants that are not true development: economic growth, technical advances, greater efficiency in order to produce things that are bought, used and disposed of, encompassing all of us in a vertiginous dynamic of waste,” he said.
However, the Pope cautioned that this model doesn’t allow for the development of the human being in their intelligence, and nor does it provide a system “that isn’t reduced to consumption, which isn’t reduced to the welfare of a few, which includes all peoples and people in the fullness of their dignity...this is the development we need: human, integral, respectful of creation.”
Pope Francis then turned to a point he called “bankruptcy and bailout,” noting how during their meeting participants dedicated a day to discussing the drama of migrants, refugees and displaced persons.
“What happens in the world today, that when there is the bankruptcy of a bank, scandalous sums immediately appear to save it, but when this bankruptcy of humanity occurs there is almost a thousandth of a part to save those brothers and sisters who suffer so much?” he asked.
The Pope said the Mediterranean has become “a graveyard, and not only the Mediterranean...so many graveyards by the walls, walls stained with innocent blood.”
“Fear hardens the heart and becomes blind cruelty which refuses to see the blood, the pain, the face of the other,” he said, adding that for many migrants, their situation is exacerbated when they turn to traffickers in order to cross the border.