World-wide popular movements to meet with the Pope

LATIN AMERICA IN MOVEMENT/ALCSustainable Peasant and Family Agriculture (Vía Campesina)

By Osvaldo León:

Considered an “unprecedented event”, the World Meeting of Popular Movements will take place in Rome and the Vatican on October 27th to 29th, sponsored by Pope Francis. The meeting will bring together around a hundred organizations and a number of bishops from different continents, with the objective of envisaging “new paths to social inclusion.”

One of the aims of this event is: “to share the social thought of Francis, especially the elements that he outlined in his Apostolic Exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” and to debate these from the perspective of popular movements.” The document, released on November 26, 2013, among other things, expresses the idea that “today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills… Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.” (53)

This leads to the formulation of a clear condemnation of the logic of the free market, which is incapable, by itself, of promoting social inclusion: “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.” (54)

The meeting also intends to “develop a synthesis of the vision of popular movements concerning the causes of growing social inequality and the increase of exclusion in the whole world, basically the exclusion from land, work and housing.” As well as: “to propose popular alternatives to address the problems – such as war, exile, hunger, misery, unemployment, precarious conditions, exclusion – that are generated by financial capitalism, militarism and the immense power of transnational corporations, from the point of view of the poor and of poor peoples, looking to build a society that is peaceful, free and just.”

In addition, the meeting looks to “discuss the relationship of Popular Movements with the Church, and how to move forward in the creation of a body for permanent coordination and collaboration.” The perspective of this dialogue was opened on the occasion of the colloquium “The emergence of the excluded”, that took place in the Vatican on December 5, 2013, with the participation of João Pedro Stedile (Landless Movement–Via Campesina, Brazil) and Juan Grabois (Confederation of Workers in the Popular Economy, Argentina) who came up with the proposal of a global meeting.

Structured on the basis of the Latin American theological method of “seeing-judging-acting” as well as “hearing-discerning-committing”, the event will consider three symbolically divided themes: Bread, Land and Housing. The first, referring to work, informal workers, precarious youth and the new issues in the realm of labour; the second, campesinos, agriculture, food sovereignty and the environment; thirdly, informal settlements, precarious housing and the question of urban peripheries. Two parallel sessions complete the agenda: environment and climate change, and peace movements.

“Considering that a timely reconsideration of our models of economic development necessarily demands the opinion and participation of those who suffer the lamentable consequences of the current model, in order to effectively achieve social progress towards the respect and inclusion of all, the three groups (Bread, Land and Housing) will consider the systematic and structural causes of the marginality suffered by those whom they represent. From the same perspective we must look at the social implications of climate change and war”, states the methodological proposal.

The programme of this encounter, organized by the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and representatives of various movements, includes a meeting between Pope Francis and the participants on Tuesday, October 28, in which Evo Morales will also be present, not in his role as President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, but due to his background as a leader in people’s movements.

(Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)

Source: Latin America in Movement:

Photo: Sustainable Peasant and Family Agriculture (Vía Campesina)

See also: Rome: World Meeting of Popular Movements

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