Pope Francis made a firm defense of the “popular” profile of the Latin American Church and its emancipating role in a region that, he considered, “will be a victim until it is freed from exploitative imperialism.”
In a highly political interview, granted in Santa Marta last week to the Argentine news agency Télam , the pontiff avoided mentioning these “exploiters” because, he said, “they are so obvious that everyone sees them.” And he invited Latin America to think “from the periphery” to fulfill the “dream of unity of San Martín and Bolívar”.
“I was struck by a conference I heard from Amelia Podetti, a philosopher who has since passed away, in which she said: ‘Europe saw the Universe when Magellan arrived in the South.’ I mean, from the larger periphery, she understood herself. The periphery makes us understand the center. They may or may not agree, but if you want to know what a people feels, go to the periphery. The existential peripheries, not only the social ones. And there the people show themselves,” the Pope said.
In that periphery is Latin America, that place where “the true reality is seen,” according to Francisco. The region then has the challenge of building unity from there and “freeing itself from imperialism.” “Latin America is still on that slow path, of struggle, of the dream of San Martín and Bolívar for the unity of the region.
The dream of San Martín and Bolívar is a prophecy, that meeting of the entire Latin American people beyond ideology. This is what needs to be worked on to achieve Latin American unity,” Francisco told Télam .
Born in Argentina 85 years ago, Francis became the first Latin American pope on March 13, 2013. Since then he has not returned to his country, but has visited Brazil -his first trip abroad, in July of that same year-, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Cuba, Mexicoand Columbia. In all these countries the Catholic Church is strong because, Francis said, “it has a history of closeness to the very great people”: “It is a popular Church, in the real sense of the word.
It is a Church that was denatured when the people could not express themselves and ended up being a Church of ranch foremen, with the pastoral agents who ruled. “The Latin American Church has aspects of ideological subjection in some cases. There have been and will continue to be because that is a human limitation,” the Pope added, “but it is a Church that could and can express its popular organization better and better.”