With great rhetorical flourish, on Friday, Pope Francis spoke of Jesus as “the great discarded one” and the “liberator” who frees us “from all our slaveries and miseries,” while Mary’s canticle of Magnificat “proclaims a God who delights in overturning ideologies and worldly hierarchies,” he said.
He pronounced these words in Spanish during his homily Friday at the solemn celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Latin America and one of its most important religious celebrations, in Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Francis called Latin America the “continent of hope” and expressed his confidence that “new models of development” will emerge from it to overcome what he called “the idolatrous system of today’s throwaway culture.”
These new models, the Pope said, will “combine Christian tradition with civil progress, justice and fairness with reconciliation, scientific and technological development with human wisdom, and fruitful suffering with hopeful joy.” It is only possible to keep this hope alive, he added, “with large doses of truth and love, the foundations of all reality and the revolutionary catalysts of authentic new life.”
“Today,” Francis said, “we can continue to praise God for the wonders he has worked in the lives of Latin American peoples. God, according to his style, ‘has hidden these things from the wise and learned, giving her to know the little ones and the humble, the simple of heart,'” he said.
Pulling no punches, Francis applied the Virgin Mary’s canticle of Magnificat to the peoples of Latin America.
Mary’s hymn, he said, “overturns worldly judgments and destroys the idols of power, wealth, and success at all costs; it denounces self-sufficiency, pride, and a messianic secularism that pulls people away from God.”
Conversely, Francis continued, God “lifts up the lowly, comes to the aid of the poor and lowly, and fills those who trust in His mercy with good things, with blessings and hopes from generation to generation.” He also “dethrones the rich, the powerful, and the domineering,” he said.
The Pope invited all those present to pray with him, asking for the grace “that the future of Latin America may be forged by the poor and those who suffer, the humble, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, those who work for peace, those persecuted because of the name of Christ, ‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,'” he said.
He prayed further that it might be “forged by those who are relegated to the category of slaves and disposable items by the idolatrous system of today’s throwaway culture.”
The Pope celebrated the Mass in Spanish, with fragments in Portuguese, English, Italian, and Nahuatl, and the liturgy was accompanied by Latin American music.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.