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Two week agos, Pope Francis was vis-
iting three of the poorest countries in
South America---Bolivia, Ecuador and
Paraguay. The Pontiff, who from the very
beginning of his papacy has been speaking
about the effects poverty have had on peo-
ples all over the world, continued his cru-
sade on human dignity during his South
Speaking to a large gathering in the city of Santa Cruz in Bolivia, at the second world
meeting of popular movements, an inter-
national body that seeks to bring together
organisations of people on the margin of
society, he made some very pertinent
remarks which in many ways related to what
was happening here in T&T today.
He said once capital became an idol and
one which guides individuals, and once
greed presides over the entire economic
system, it spelt ruin for the society. Sounds
familiar? Pope Francis explained that such
a situation enslaved individuals and destroys
"fraternity," a system which excluded,
debased and killed. This system is by now intolerable.
So let us not be afraid to say it. We need change;
we want change," he added.
Pope Francis, in what could be considered a rev-
olutionary statement by some, exhorted the people
of Latin America to stand up to the world s capitalist
system and change the world economic order through
the creation of a "truly communitarian economy"
based on the distribution of goods among all, which
system would guarantee the three L s of land, lodging
Posturing on the need to bring about change, the
head of the Roman Catholic Church called on the
faithful to fight to protect human dignity, something
Archbishop Harris continues to call for in many of
The Argentina-born Pontiff questioned: "Do we
realise that the system has imposed the mentality of
profit at any price, without any concern for social
exclusion or the destruction of nature?"
He said, "It is no utopia or chimera. It is an
extremely realistic prospect. We can achieve it. Work-
ing for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth
and human labour is not mere philanthropy. It is a
The Pope challenged the gathering to tackle what
he termed "three great tasks." Enumerating these
goals he said firstly: Strive to create an economy at
the "service of people" not at the "service of money,"
because he sincerely believes that such an approach
would focus on service rather than profits, which in
turn would protect mother earth.
Secondly, there is a need to unify our peoples on
the "path of peace and justice" to empower them
to defend their sovereignty against colonialism. "The
new colonialism takes on different faces. At times it
appears as the anonymous influence of mammon,
corporations, loan agencies, certain free trade treaties
and the imposition of measures of austerity which
always tightens the belt of workers and the poor."
The Pontiff added that the monopoly of commu-
nications was another example of consumerism and
new colonialism which in the end denied countries
the right to development. He also called on social
movements to protect their culture, their language,
their social processes and their religious traditions.
The third task deals with the environment, an area
that is close to his heart, as is reflected in his most
recent encyclical "Laudato Si." He made a universal
call to save mother earth by breaking down the current
system which ravages the planet s ecology. In a
scathing condemnation of the world s governments,
whom he described as cowards in failing to defend
the earth and termed it a "grave sin."
He said, the world cannot allow certain interests---
interests which are global, but not universal---to take
over and dominate states and international organ-
isations and to continue destroying creation.
Vernon Khelawan is media relations officer
of Catholic Media Services Ltd (Camsel), the
official commercial arm of the Archdiocese of
Port-of-Spain. Its offices are located at 31
Independence Square. Telephone: 623-7620.
'Create a communitarian economy'
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