[…] And speaking of pandemics, we have stopped questioning the scourge of
the food crisis. Despite advances in biotechnology, millions of people have been
deprived of food, even though it is available. This year twenty million more
people have been dragged down to extreme levels of food insecurity; severe
destitution has increased; and the price of food has risen sharply. The numbers
relating to hunger are horrific, and I think, for example, of countries like Syria,
Haiti, Congo, Senegal, Yemen, South Sudan. But hunger is also felt in many
other poor countries of the world, and not infrequently in the rich world as well.
Annual deaths from hunger may exceed those of Covid. (OXFAM, The hunger
virus multiplies, 9.7.2021, based on the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) of
the United Nations World Food Programme, 2021) But this does not make the
news. It does not generate empathy.
I want to thank you because you have felt the pain of others as your own. You
know how to show the face of true humanity, the humanity that is not built by
turning your back on the suffering of those around you, but in the patient,
committed and often even sorrowful recognition that the other person is my
brother or sister (cf. Lk 10:25-37) and that his or her joys and hopes, griefs and
anxieties are also mine (cf. Gaudium et spes, no. 1). To ignore those who have
fallen is to ignore our own humanity that cries out in every brother and sister of
Christians and non-Christians, you have responded to Jesus who said to His
disciples, faced with the hungry crowd: “Give them some food yourselves”. And
where there was scarcity, the miracle of the multiplication occurred again in your
struggling tirelessly so that no one would go without bread (cf. Mt 14:13-21).
Like the doctors, nurses and health workers in the trenches of healthcare, you
have taken your place in the trenches of the marginalised neighbourhoods. I am
thinking of many, in quotation marks, “martyrs” to this solidarity, about whom I
have learned from you. The Lord will take them into account. If all those who out
of love struggled together against the pandemic could also dream of a new world
together, how different things would be! To dream together. […]
[…] In Fratelli tutti I used the parable of the Good Samaritan as the clearest
possible Gospel presentation of this intentional choice. A friend told me that the
figure of the Good Samaritan is associated by a certain cultural industry with a
half-wit. This is the distortion that provokes the depressive hedonism that is
meant to neutralise the transformative power that people possess, and in
particular young people.
Do you know what comes to mind now when, together with popular movements,
I think of the Good Samaritan? Do you know what comes to mind? The protests
over the death of George Floyd. It is clear that this type of reaction against
social, racial or macho injustice can be manipulated or exploited by political
machinations or whatever, but the main thing is that, in that protest against this
death, there was the Collective Samaritan who is no fool! This movement did not
pass by on the other side of the road when it saw the injury to human dignity
caused by an abuse of power. The popular movements are not only social poets
but also collective Samaritans.
In these processes, there are many young people who feel hope, but there are
many other young people who are sad, who perhaps in order to feel something
in this world need to resort to the cheap consolations offered by the consumerist
and narcotising system. And others, sad to say, others choose to leave the
system altogether. The statistics on youth suicides are not published in their
entirety. What you do is very important, but it is also important that you succeed
in transmitting to present and future generations the same thing that inflames
your hearts. In this you have a dual task or responsibility. Like the Good
Samaritan, to tend attentively to all those who are stricken along the way, and
at the same time, to ensure that many more join in: the poor and the oppressed
of the earth deserve it, and our common home demands it of us.
I want to offer some guidelines. The social teaching of the Church does not have
all the answers, but it does have some principles that along this journey can help
to concretize the answers, principles useful to Christians and non-Christians
alike. It sometimes surprises me that every time I speak of these principles,
some people are astonished, and then the Holy Father gets labeled with a series
of epithets that are used to reduce any reflection to mere discrediting adjectives.
It doesn’t anger me, it saddens me. It is part of the post-truth plot that seeks to
nullify any humanistic search for an alternative to capitalist globalisation, it is
part of the throwaway culture, and it is part of the technocratic paradigm.
The principles I set out are tested, human, Christian, and are compiled in the
Compendium drawn up by the then Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
(Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Compendium of the
Social Doctrine of the Church, 2004) It is a small manual of the Church’s Social
Teaching. And sometimes, when the Popes, be it myself or Benedict, or John Paul
II, say something, there are people who wonder: “Where did he get it from?” It
is the traditional teaching of the Church. There is a lot of ignorance about this.
The principles I expound are in this Compendium commissioned by Saint John
Paul II. I recommend that you read it, you and all social, trade union, religious,
political and business leaders.
In chapter four of this document, we find principles such as the preferential
option for the poor, the universal destination of goods, solidarity, subsidiarity,
participation, and the common good. These are all ways in which the Good News
of the Gospel takes concrete form on a social and cultural level. And it saddens
me that some members of the Church get annoyed when we mention these
guidelines that belong to the full tradition of the Church. But the Pope must not
stop mentioning this teaching, even if it often annoys people, because what is at
stake is not the Pope but the Gospel.
And so in this context, I would like to briefly reiterate some of the principles we
rely upon to carry out our mission. I will mention two or three, not more. One is
the principle of solidarity. Solidarity not only as a moral virtue but also as a
social principle: a principle that seeks to confront unjust systems with the aim of
building a culture of solidarity that expresses, the Compendium literally says, “a
firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good”. (n.
Another principle is to stimulate and promote participation and subsidiarity
between movements and between peoples, capable of thwarting any
authoritarian mindset, any forced collectivism or any state-centric mindset. The
common good cannot be used as an excuse to quash private initiative, local
identity or community projects. Therefore, these principles promote an economy
and politics that recognise the role of popular movements, “the family, groups,
associations, local territorial realities; in short, for that aggregate of economic,
social, cultural, sports-oriented, recreational, professional and political
expressions to which people spontaneously give life and which make it possible
for them to achieve effective social growth”.(n. 185) […]