Friday, July 10th, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church has called the “unfettered pursuit of money” the “dung of the devil” and accused world leaders of “cowardice” for refusing to defend the earth from exploitation during his tour of countries in South America, CNN reports, in what some have called the strongest language yet used about the rights of the poor and social justice.
The former Argentine cardinal, speaking to grassroots organizers in Bolivia, called on the poor and disenfranchised to rise up against “new colonialism,” including corporations, loan agencies, free trade treaties, austerity measures, and “the monopolizing of the communications media.”
He also apologized “fully” for the “many grave sins” committed against native South Americans by Catholics in God’s name but called persecution of Christians for their faith, particularly in the Middle East, “a genocide” that must end.
The Pope’s tough talk has endeared him to many and he has been received by raucous crowds and approving fans in this last week.
In Bolivia, President Evo Morales gifted him a Communist-style wooden crucifix laid on hammer and sickle, the symbol of the Russian Revolution.
While traveling in high altitude from Ecuador to Bolivia, the 78-year-old pontiff got motion sickness and drank coca tea, a popular remedy, on arrival. Visiting La Paz Cathedral he was “rushed” by an overenthusiastic nun before giving a blessing to her convent.
Francis called for dialogue between Bolivia and its neighbor, Chile, over access to the Pacific Ocean (a complaint Bolivian President Evo Morales reportedly mentioned to the Pope earlier on Wednesday).
In Ecuador, he addressed nuns and priests for 30 minutes extemporaneously, reminding them to remember their roots, and don’t think you’re special just because you’ve received a calling from God. “You did not buy a ticket to get into the seminary,” he told them. “You did nothing to ‘deserve’ it.”
He has been embracing the young, sick and elderly in pursuance of Matthew 25, the “heart of the Gospel”, in which Jesus tells his followers that in the last days they will be asked whether they fed the hungry, clothed the naked and visited the sick.
Speaking at San Francisco Church in Quito, he called for or a new system of global justice based on human rights and care for the environment rather than economic profits, and called out Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa for supporting mining and drilling near the ancestral homelands of indigenous peoples in the Amazon.
Earlier at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador, he told Catholic students and educators that the purpose of education is not to boost our social status or pad our bank accounts, but to find creative ways to help the poor and save the environment.
The Pope raised his voice, urging students to “make a fuss” and telling teachers not to “play the professor.”
The Pope is to address the U.S. Congress in September. He finishes his South American tour in Paraguay.
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