||Home > Charity and Solidarity > 2013-07-26 08:23:43
Pope in Rio: culture of selfishness must give way to solidarity
July 26, 2013: Pope Francis on Thursday visited one of Rio de Janeiro's most visible favela slums, Manguinhos, as he continues his pastoral visit to Brazil for the World Youth Day gathering. He spoke to thousands gathered on the local soccer field.Tracey McClure of Vatican Radio reports :
He’s the first Latin American to visit his continent as pontiff and in his words of greeting to the people of Manguinhos, Pope Francis straight off told them he had wanted to visit every district in Brazil, “to knock on every door, to say ‘good morning,’ to ask for a glass of cold water, to take a cafezinho” and talk with families about their hopes and troubles.
But because I cannot go and knock on every door, your community, he mused, you will have to represent all of Brazil, and he thanked them for welcoming him with such love and generosity. Pope Francis chose the shanty town of Varginhos because it is one of the country’s poorest and most troubled, with a long history of drug related violence - cleaned up last year under occupation by police.
This generosity of the Brazilian people, even the most humble, he said, offers the world a valuable lesson in solidarity – an “uncomfortable” word all too often “forgotten or silenced.”
Appealing to those with greater resources, public authorities and those who work in social justice, he urged them to work for a more just world. “The culture of selfishness and individualism” should give way to a culture of solidarity he said.
He praised efforts that Brazil’s society is making to integrate all its members, including the poorest. “The measure of the greatness of a society, he said, is found in the way it treats those most in need … those who have nothing apart from their poverty!”
But he warned, there can be no “real promotion of the common good nor real human development” when life, and the family, education, health and security are not protected and promoted.
In what was a likely reference to recent mass protests throughout Brazil, Pope Francis spoke of the disappointment of many young people when they see “corruption on the part of people who put their own interests before the common good.”
“Never yield to discouragement” he challenged them. Do not lose “trust” or “hope” – things can change he said. And he encouraged them to bring good and defeat evil in their society. You are not alone! he assured them: the Church, and the Pope, are with you. “I carry each of you in my heart.”
Below, we publish the full text of Pope Francis' address to the people of the Community of Varginha which is part of the Manguinhos Favela in Rio: (full text)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is wonderful to be here with you! From the start, my wish in planning this visit to Brazil was to be able to visit every district throughout the nation. I would have liked to knock on every door, to say “good morning”, to ask for a glass of cold water, to take a cafezinho, to speak as one would to family friends, to listen to each person pouring out his or her heart – parents, children, grandparents ... But Brazil is so vast! It is impossible to knock on every door! So I chose to come here, to visit your community, which today stands for every district in Brazil. How wonderful it is to be welcomed with such love, generosity, and joy! One need only look at the way you have decorated the streets of the community; this is a further mark of affection, it comes from your heart, from the heart of all Brazilians in festive mood. Many thanks to each of you for this kind welcome! And I thank Archbishop Orani Tempesta as well as Rangler and Joana for their kind words.
1. From the moment I first set foot on Brazilian soil, right up to this meeting here with you, I have been made to feel welcome. And it is important to be able to make people welcome; this is something even more beautiful than any kind of ornament or decoration. I say this because when we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them – some food, a place in our homes, our time – not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched. I am well aware that when someone needing food knocks at your door, you always find a way of sharing food; as the proverb says, one can always “add more water to the beans”! And you do so with love, demonstrating that true riches consist not in material things, but in the heart!
And the Brazilian people, particularly the humblest among you, can offer the world a valuable lesson in solidarity, a word that is too often forgotten or silenced, because it is uncomfortable. 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.
I would like to encourage the efforts that Brazilian society is making to integrate all its members, including those who suffer most and are in greatest need, through the fight against hunger and deprivation. No amount of “peace-building” will be able to last, nor will harmony and happiness be attained in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins or excludes a part of itself. A society of that kind simply impoverishes itself, it loses something essential. Let us always remember this: only when we are able to share do we become truly rich; everything that is shared is multiplied! 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!
2. I would also like to tell you that the Church, the “advocate of justice and defender of the poor in the face of intolerable social and economic inequalities which cry to heaven” (Aparecida Document, 395), wishes to offer her support for every initiative that can signify genuine development for every person and for the whole person. Dear friends, it is certainly necessary to give bread to the hungry – this is an act of justice. But there is also a deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy. There is neither real promotion of the common good nor real human development when there is ignorance of the fundamental pillars that govern a nation, its non-material goods: life, which is a gift of God, a value always to be protected and promoted; the family, the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation; integral education, which cannot be reduced to the mere transmission of information for purposes of generating profit; health, which must seek the integral well-being of the person, including the spiritual dimension, essential for human balance and healthy coexistence; security, in the conviction that violence can be overcome only by changing human hearts.
I would like to add one final point. Here, as in the whole of Brazil, there are many young people. Dear young friends, you have a particular sensitivity towards injustice, but you are often disappointed by facts that speak of corruption on the part of people who put their own interests before the common good. To you and to all, I repeat: never yield to discouragement, do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished. Situations can change, people can change. Be the first to seek to bring good, do not grow accustomed to evil, but defeat it. The Church is with you, bringing you the precious good of faith, bringing Jesus Christ, who “came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
Today, to all of you, especially to the residents of this Community of Varginha, I say: you are not alone, the Church is with you, the Pope is with you. I carry each of you in my heart and I make my own the intentions that you carry deep within you: thanksgiving for joys, pleas for help in times of difficulty, a desire for consolation in times of grief and suffering. I entrust all this to the intercession of Our Lady of Aparecida, Mother of all the poor of Brazil, and with great affection I impart my blessing.