POPE Francis has delivered an off-the-cuff, mini-encyclical on the poor, labour injustices and the environment, saying he’s not preaching communism but the Gospel.
FRANCIS’ remarks to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, delivered on Tuesday in his native Spanish, ran for more than six pages, single-spaced. It was one of his longest speeches yet and a clear sign that the issues are particularly close to his heart.
Francis said the poor need land, a roof over their head and work, and said he knew well that “some will think that if I talk about this, the Pope is communist.” He said: “They don’t understand that love for the poor is at the centre of the Gospel. Demanding this isn’t unusual, it’s the social doctrine of the church.” Francis has already been branded a Marxist by conservative US commentators for his unbridled criticism of capitalist excesses, for his demand that governments redistribute social benefits to the needy, and his call for the church to be a “poor church, for the poor.” His speech on Tuesday broadened his concerns to include the environment, the rights for farmers to have land, and for young people to have work. He promised that the concerns of the poor would be highlighted in his upcoming encyclical on ecology and the environment. “Today I want to unite my voice with yours and accompany you in your fight,” he said. Among those in the audience were Argentine “cartoneros,” who sift through garbage looking for recyclable goods. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was particularly close to the cartoneros; as Pope he has maintained his support for their plight.