One of the most powerful themes of Pope Francis’ pontificate has been the importance of working for social justice. His emphasis on Catholic Social Teaching has continued at World Youth Day this week — he seems to talk about it at every public appearance. Here are five fantastic quotes from his visit to Rio so far:
I would like to make an appeal to those in possession of greater resources, to public authorities and to all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity! No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world! Everybody, according to his or her particular opportunities and responsibilities, should be able to make a personal contribution to putting an end to so many social injustices. The culture of selfishness and individualism that often prevails in our society is not what builds up and leads to a more habitable world: it is the culture of solidarity that does so, seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters.
The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty.
We do not judge our progress based on how the wealthiest are doing. Instead, we evaluate our greatness by observing how the most vulnerable are fairing. And then, whenever we see deficiencies, we are called to respond in faith.
Calling on Christians to be “lights of hope,” Francis said it’s important for believers to keep “a positive outlook on reality,” conscious that despite the frustrations and “many idols” of the modern world, God always has “the upper hand.”
Young people, the pope said, have a special need for “nonmaterial values, which are the spiritual heart of a people, the memory of a people.”
Among those values, Francis said, are “spirituality, generosity, solidarity, perseverance, fraternity and joy” — values, he said, “whose deepest root is the Christian faith.”
In this quote, Pope Francis articulates the spiritual element of all faith-based work for justice. Being in touch with these “nonmaterial values” gives workers for justice energy, and prevents us from seeing ourselves as the saviors or fixers of the world’s problems.
“I want to tell you something. What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!” he said, speaking off the cuff in his native Spanish. “I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!”
Pope Francis emphasizes here how important it is that our parishes and dioceses send us out to the margins, to bring the good news of God’s love to all people. Let’s make a holy mess.
In every suffering brother and sister that we embrace, we embrace the suffering Body of Christ.
While speaking to those battling addiction, Pope Francis asserted that he and the Church are called to spend intimate time with those who are suffering. Whenever it would be easier to turn away from pain, our faith demands our attentiveness.