Pope Francis Calls for ‘New Social Justice’ to Challenge Utopia

Pope Francis jokes with priests at the end of a limited public audience at the San Damaso courtyard in The Vatican on September 30, 2020 during the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty

ROME — Pope Francis called for a “new social justice” Sunday in which all well-intentioned people will challenge the reigning utopia.

Addressing “social justice judges” from the African and American continents via streaming, the pope congratulated them for their commitment to “social rights,” asserting that the very fact that men and women “come together to think about their work and to build the new social justice is, without a doubt, excellent news.”

The pontiff, who has been a vocal proponent of a “great reset” after the coronavirus pandemic, urged his hearers to “not lose sight of the distressing picture in which a small part of humanity lives in opulence, while an increasingly large number lives without dignity with their most elementary rights ignored or violated.”

“We cannot think disconnected from reality,” he said. “And this is a reality that you must bear in mind.”

The pope insisted that social justice is “a collective work” in which all people of good will challenge the reigning utopia. “Justice is a task that has to be conquered every day, because the imbalance is a temptation of every minute,” he said.

Justice also involves overcoming the temptation to ignore others, “especially the weakest,” Francis said, lamenting that “we have become used to sidestepping or ignoring situations until they impact us directly.”

“Unconditional commitment means taking charge of the pain of the other and not slipping into a culture of indifference,” he added.

In their task of bringing about a “new social justice for the planet,” the pope urged his hearers to pay attention to history, to draw inspiration from “the struggles, the triumphs, and the defeats” of those who gave their lives for “a full and integrated humanity.”

This effort will only succeed if it takes place as a grassroots initiative involving all people, “without pretending to be an enlightened elite,” Francis said, because “what God asks of us believers is to be God’s people, not God’s elite.”

In the battle for social justice solidarity is necessary to overcome “the structural causes of poverty, inequality, lack of work, land and housing,” he said.

We must fight, he said, “against those who deny social and labor rights” and “against a culture that leads people to use others, to enslave others, and ends up taking away the dignity of others.”

When we give essential things to the poor, he said, “we do not give them our things, or that of third parties, but we give them back what is theirs.”

The Christian tradition “never recognized the right to private property as absolute and untouchable,” he added, but “always emphasized its social function in any of its forms.”

“There is no social justice that can be based on inequity, which involves the concentration of wealth,” he said.

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