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Jubilee USA: Pope Francis; Pope of Peace, Justice and the Poor

On Wednesday, I shared a quote from newly appointed Pope Francis poverty and inequality.

Also, on Wednesday, Jubilee USA Networks, an “alliance of more than 75 US organizations, 250 faith communities and 50 Jubilee global partners” released the following statement::

WASHINGTON, DC – Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious organization that works on financial reforms to help the poor, releases the following statement on the election of the new Pope:

“Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio chose the name Francis. His name choice of Francis signifies that his papacy will have a great devotion to justice, peace and to the poor. He is also the first Pope of the global south and he will articulate a vision of an international economy that serves and protects the poor. Here’s a guy who has taken the life of St. Francis seriously. He gave up his mansion and driver and lives in an apartment in Buenos Aires. He even cooked for himself.

“Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio has a deep commitment to Justice. Pope Francis will preach that we need to promote access to food, water, education, employment and healthcare for every person, without discrimination. Pope Francis will definitely carry on the message of Benedict’s Encyclical, Caritas in Veritate – a message that affirms all people should live in dignity. There’s been a lot of talk about what new directions the new Pope might take. With the election of Pope Francis, we are certain that this Papacy will strongly state that our economy exists for the common good. Clearly, with Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s history, Pope Francis will be a strong voice that our economy must serve and protect the most vulnerable. This Pope will stand up for the rights of poor people, migrants and workers.”

More than 100 US Catholic Religious Orders and Congregations are members of Jubilee USA Network. The Network was formed after calls from Pope John Paul II and other religious leaders to forgive the debts of poor countries.

Mark Engler offers an insightful response to this statement and other reactions to Pope Francis on poverty matters, here at Dissent Magazine.

Engler concludes with this:

I recently argued that, while it is often reported that the Vatican officially rejected liberation theology under the watch of John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, that’s not entirely true. Core tenets such as the “preferential option for the poor” have in fact been mainstreamed within the church. Liberation theology’s positions on poverty, inequality, and the tyranny of the market are often echoed in statements like that released by Bergoglio and the Argentine bishops in 2000.

Neither Pope John XXIII, who convened the Second Vatican Council, nor Archbishop Romero, who became a human rights icon, was brought into his position as a reformer. But each responded, in Catholic parlance, to “the signs of the times.” We can hope that, out of his many contradictions, Pope Francis will emerge with a ministry that emphasizes peace, social justice, and the rights of the poor, and that moves the church out of a state of reactionary self-isolation.

It’s a faint hope. But if you’re in the habit of looking to Rome for leadership, it’s probably the best you’ve got.

I share that hope. Faint as it might be.

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