Pope Francis gives a thumbs up as he arrives to participate in the second World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, July 9.


Pope Francis gives a thumbs up as he arrives to participate in the second World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, July 9.

July 27, 2015
Catholic News Service

SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA – The world needs "an economy of Christian inspiration," one which respects human dignity and guarantees the rights to land, housing and work, Pope Francis told an international gathering of grassroots activists.

Such an economy would also provide access to education, health care, culture, communications and recreation, he said.

"It is an economy where human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the entire system of production and distribution in such a way that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life," the pope said July 9.

Such an economy is not a dream, he said. The people, talent and resources exist.

The pope said he did not have a "recipe" for a perfect economic-social-political system, but he said the problems with the current system are obvious and the Gospel contains principles that can help.

The future "is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize," he said.

Pope Francis urged those attending the World Meeting of Popular Movements to stand "up to an idolatrous (economic) system which excludes, debases and kills."

The activists combat "many forms of exclusion and injustice," he said.

"Yet there is an invisible thread joining every one of those forms of exclusion," the pope said. They all are the result of a global economic system that "has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature."

The current global finance system is "intolerable," he said.

"Farmworkers find it intolerable, labourers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, peoples find it intolerable. The earth itself - our sister, Mother Earth, as St. Francis would say - finds it intolerable."

The pope said, "Perhaps the most important" task facing the world today "is to defend Mother Earth. Our common home is being pillaged, laid waste and harmed with impunity. Cowardice in defending it is a grave sin.

"Today, the scientific community realizes what the poor have long told us: Harm, perhaps irreversible harm, is being done to the ecosystem," Pope Francis said.

"The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished" by the effects of pollution, exploitation and climate change.

"And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called 'the dung of the devil' – an unfettered pursuit of money," the pope said.

Pope Francis also apologized to indigenous people for the Church's co-operation with the Spanish and Portuguese who settled much of the Americas.

"I say this to you with regret: Many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God," the pope said.

"Here I wish to be quite clear, as was St. John Paul II: I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offences of the Church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America."

At the same time, the pope asked meeting participants to recognize that many Catholics – priests, nuns and laity – willingly gave their lives in service to the continent's peoples.