POPE FRANCIS WENT TO MEXICO this week, and many people expected him to call out the country’s infamous drug lords who have been ripping the country apart for the last decade. And indeed, he did. But the coolest thing he did was to tie that drug violence to a culture of selfishness in a speech given in Ecatepec, a Mexican slum: “Experience teaches us that each time we seek the path of privilege or benefits for a few to the detriment of the good of all, sooner or later the life of society becomes a fertile soil for corruption, the drug trade, the exclusion of different cultures, violence and also human trafficking, kidnapping and death.”
The message is not a new one for Pope Francis, who has a bit of an anti-capitalist streak, but it was an important one for Mexico and, indeed, the rest of the Americas: there are more people to blame for the destruction of a society than just those who are destroying it from outside the bounds of the law. There are people who are destroying it from within, too. Greed reverberates.
It’s not the only message of tolerance the Pope is spreading, of course: he has also spoken out against violence against women in Mexico, which has increased significantly under current President Nieto, and he is planning on ending his trip in Ciudad Juarez, where he will likely speak on behalf of poor immigrants to the United States. In tying these problems to the greater one of inequality and poverty, the Pope is making an important point: a societies problems are often symptomatic, and simplistic, band-aid solutions like being “tough on crime” or having “zero tolerance” when it comes to drugs are not enough to fix the problems at our core.
For those who, like myself, are lapsed Catholics, it’s especially heartening to see a Catholic Church that is finally working to expose and fight injustice, rather than being the source of injustice and working to cover it up. While it may not be enough to get all of us lapsed Catholics to come back to the Church, it’s still refreshing to see the Pope getting on the right side of history, and to see a massively influential world leader speaking out against the abuses of the 1%.
h/t: Global Citizen