World Meeting of Popular Movements
Pont. Coll. Int. Maria Mater Ecclesiae, Roma
2 November 2016
Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson
Warm welcome to this third encounter!
Happy to be working together on the programme of 3 T’s — Terra, Trabajo, Techo — work, housing, land and food. Happy to welcome migrants and refugees. Many are displaced from their homelands by various forms of violence, by war, economic exclusion, irresponsible extractive- and agro-businesses, and environmental dangers including climate change. So we confront both social and environmental degradation, because these two go together.
During this meeting, we will look at how the popular movements can participate economically, politically and socially, and contribute to real democracy, to the real exercise of the rule of law, in order to face these challenges.
The starting point for us, for the Church: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted …” (Gaudium et Spes, § 1), and the starting point for each World Meeting is very much the same.
So our Meeting will address work, housing, land and food, democracy and governance, social and environmental, migration and forced displacement, which are general themes. The starting points are not just statistics or the so-called “news”. Rather, the starting points are always the real people, the real problems, the real sufferings and the actual injustices of those who undergo them, and what they – what all of us — are doing about them. And. For as Pope Francis declared at our first Meeting: “the poor not only suffer injustice, they also struggle against it!” So this is our Meeting. It is to struggle against whatever diminishes human existence.
A few months ago, Pope Francis announced that four Pontifical Councils here in the Vatican – for healthcare, for migrants, for emergency relief and for justice and peace – will come together on 1stJanuary to form a new Department for Promoting or serving Integral Human Development. Integral Human Development includes all the issues which we will be talking about during the coming days, and which Pope Francis will address when we meet him on Saturday afternoon.
For our new Department, these include migrants, the sick and excluded, those forced to flee their homelands, the marginalized, victims of armed conflicts and of natural disasters, the imprisoned, the unemployed and under-employed, victims of slavery and torture, and for other persons whose dignity is at risk.
Our new department will also take up, you may be sure, those commitments you have articulated in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in your wonderful concluding document. And we will take up the three missions that the Pope has given us all: to put the economy at the service of the peoples, to unite all peoples in the quest for peace and justice, and to protect our sister-mother earth.
Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have clearly explained, “Every effort to protect and improve our world entails [conversion], profound changes in ‘lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies’ (Caritas in Veritate, 83). In this third Meeting of Popular Movements from around the world, we shall ask what are the most urgent profound changes? Let’s work together, Church and popular movements, to promote these changes.
With thanks to all those who have worked very hard for many months to prepare this meeting, with thanks to those who have given generous support, and with special thanks to you who have come from far and near to listen and dialogue, to reflect and to change, to pray and to celebrate. May God bless our meeting very much!