Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — Much has been written about Pope Francis since he became the leader of the Catholic Church, owing to his declarations in defense of the poor and his critique of the adoration of money.
Pope Francis has been called incendiary, a socialist and a communist. He has been criticized for meddling in political issues instead of addressing religious matters exclusively. His critics seem to forget that politics governs the life of societies, and that politics determine whether a society is plural and inclusive, selfish and exclusive, and whether it promotes peace or war.
In his homilies, Pope Francis has criticized savage capitalism, a system which does not place humanity at its core but which reduces everything to the search for profits.
When Pope Francis refers to all of these issues and expresses these ideas, he is not so much talking politics as he is advancing the ideas of the Gospel, as Jesus was the first to preach love among all human beings. Jesus was the first to criticize the exploitation of the poor by the rich, at a time prior to capitalism and economies based on trade. The Bible tells that Jesus threw the merchants out of the temple, a symbol of his defense of the poor.
Today, Jesus would condemn capitalism for its exploitation of workers, for the damage it causes the environment, for the sole purpose of selfishly accumulating riches with no regard for anything else. This is what Pope Francis has expressed in his defense of the poor, the underprivileged and the marginalized.
Dominican priest Frei Beto, a proponent of Liberation Theology and author of numerous books, has called Pope Francis a revolutionary, but not in the political sense of the word, but in the sense that he has revolutionized the Catholic Church by applying the ideas of Jesus more faithfully that had been done to date. For many years, the Catholic Church had been the church of the rich, while today we could affirm, without fear of contradiction, that it has become the church of the poor under Francis.
Pope Francis has devoted the greater part of his life to the defense of the poor and underprivileged and he will continue to do so, as that is his interpretation of the Gospel.
Perhaps not many people ask themselves why Jesus was sentenced to die on the cross, after being tortured so he would abjure his ideas. The fact of the matter is that the first man to hold socialist ideas, even though this social doctrine did not yet exist and he preached as the son of God, was Jesus.
That is the reason Pope Francis is against war, where the poor suffer the most, and has instructed that every church in Rome take in, at least provisionally, a family of refugees fleeing from wars.
In the homily he delivered Sunday at Havana’s Revolution Square, the Pope called for an end to the war in Colombia and thanked President Raul Castro for having accompanied and facilities the peace process there.
His life of service unto others was expressed in his final remarks: “He who does not live to serve, is not fit to live.”