We Want Change, Pope Francis, 2015
Several months ago, we met in Rome, and I remember that first
meeting. In the meantime I have kept you in my thoughts and
prayers. I am happy to see you again, here, as you discuss the
best ways to overcome the grave situations of injustice
experienced by the excluded throughout our world. During our
first meeting in Rome, I sensed something very beautiful:
fraternity, determination, commitment, a thirst for justice.
Today, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, I sense it once again. I thank
you for that.
Today God has granted that we meet again. The Bible tells us
that God hears the cry of his people, and I wish to join my voice
to yours in calling for land, lodging and labor for all our brothers
and sisters. I said it and I repeat it: these are sacred rights. It is
important, it is well worth fighting for them. May the cry of the
excluded be heard in Latin America and throughout the world.
Let us begin by acknowledging that change is needed. Here I
would clarify, lest there be any misunderstanding, that I am
speaking about problems common to all Latin Americans and,
more generally, to humanity as a whole. They are global
problems which today no one state can resolve on its own. With
this clarification, I now propose that we ask the following
Do we realize that something is wrong in a world where there
are so many farmworkers without land, so many families
without a home, so many laborers without rights, so many
persons whose dignity is not respected?
Do we realize that something is wrong where so many senseless
wars are being fought and acts of fratricidal violence are taking
place on our very doorstep? Do we realize something is wrong
when the soil, water, air and living creatures of our world are
under constant threat?
So let’s not be afraid to say it: we need change; we want
We want change in our lives, in our neighborhoods, in our
everyday reality. We want a change which can affect the entire
world, since global interdependence calls for global answers to
local problems. The globalization of hope, a hope which springs
up from peoples and takes root among the poor, must replace
the globalization of exclusion and indifference!
Each day you are caught up in the storms of people’s lives. You
have told me about their causes, you have shared your own
struggles with me, and I thank you for that. You, dear brothers
and sisters, often work on little things, in local situations, amid
forms of injustice which you do not simply accept but actively
resist, standing up to an idolatrous system which excludes,
debases and kills. I have seen you work tirelessly for the soil and
crops of campesinos, for their lands and communities, for a
more dignified local economy, for the urbanization of their
homes and settlements; you have helped them build their own
homes and develop neighborhood infrastructures. You have
also promoted any number of community activities aimed at
reaffirming so elementary and undeniably necessary a right as
that of the three “L’s”: land, lodging and labor.
This rootedness in the barrio, the land, the office, the labor
union, this ability to see yourselves in the faces of others, this
daily proximity to their share of troubles and their little acts of
heroism: this is what enables you to practice the commandment
of love, not on the basis of ideas or concepts, but rather on the
basis of genuine interpersonal encounter. We do not love
concepts or ideas; we love people… Commitment, true
commitment, is born of the love of men and women, of children
and the elderly, of peoples and communities… of names and
faces which fill our hearts. From those seeds of hope patiently
sown in the forgotten fringes of our planet, from those
seedlings of a tenderness which struggles to grow amid the
shadows of exclusion, great trees will spring up, great groves of
hope to give oxygen to our world.
Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and
human labor is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation.
For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: it is a
commandment. It is about giving to the poor and to peoples
what is theirs by right. The universal destination of goods is not
a figure of speech found in the Church’s social teaching. It is a
reality prior to private property. Property, especially when it
affects natural resources, must always serve the needs of
peoples. And those needs are not restricted to consumption. It
is not enough to let a few drops fall whenever the poor shake a
cup which never runs over by itself. Welfare programs geared to
certain emergencies can only be considered temporary
responses. They will never be able to replace true inclusion, an
inclusion which provides worthy, free, creative, participatory
and solidary work.
In conclusion, I would like to repeat: the future of humanity
does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great
powers and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of
peoples and in their ability to organize. It is in their hands,
which can guide with humility and conviction this process of
change. I am with you. Let us together say from the heart: no
family without lodging, no rural worker without land, no laborer
without rights, no people without sovereignty, no individual
without dignity, no child without childhood, no young person
without a future, no elderly person without a venerable old age.
Keep up your struggle and, please, take great care of Mother
Earth. I pray for you and with you, and I ask God our Father to
accompany you and to bless you, to fill you with his love and
defend you on your way by granting you in abundance that
strength which keeps us on our feet: that strength is hope, the
hope which does not disappoint. Thank you and I ask you,
please, to pray for me.
Pope Francis. "We Want Change." World Meeting of Popular Movements. Expo Fair Santa Cruz De La Sierra, Santa Cruz, Bolivia. 9 July 2015. En.radiovaticana.va. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.
In line 7, the metaphorical expression of “a thirst for justice” is meant