Pope Francis calls for shortening the working day, welcomes George Floyd’s protests in a speech to grassroots groups

Pope Francis, in a keynote address to Popular Movements, a group that includes activists working on a wide variety of justice causes, called for a universal basic income and a shortening of the working day. He also praised the protest movement that followed the murder of George Floyd.

In a powerful 38-minute video address with representatives of these movements on all continents that is sure to spark discussion, Pope Francis renewed his call for a universal basic income and pleaded for the shortening of the day of work as partial solutions to the economic crisis so many millions live.

He also made specific appeals “in the name of God” to those responsible for key sectors of the global economy today, especially in this time of pandemic: the pharmaceutical and food industries; financial and credit institutions; the giants of technology and telecommunications; the arms industry, as well as powerful countries, governments and politicians from all sides.

Pope Francis renewed his call for a universal basic income and advocated shortening the working day as a partial solution to the economic crisis that so many millions of people are experiencing.

In order to alleviate the economic misery of so many people around the world and to guarantee basic human dignity, and after consulting many specialists in the field, François called for “a basic income or salary so that everyone can have access to the most basic necessities of life.

“It is right to fight for a humane distribution of these resources, and it is up to governments to establish tax and redistribution regimes so that the wealth of one part of society is shared fairly, but without imposing an unbearable burden, especially in the middle. class, ”said the Pope.

He also pleaded for the reduction of the working day as a way to improve the situation of people. “Minimum income is a [way to improve people’s situation] [way to improve people’s situation], reducing the working day is another possibility, and one that needs to be seriously explored, ”he said. He recalls that in the 19th century, workers worked 12, 14 and 16 hours a day. When they hit the eight-hour working day, nothing collapsed, contrary to what some industries had predicted.

“I insist, working fewer hours so that more people can access the labor market is something that we urgently need to explore,” he said.

“I insist, working fewer hours so that more people can access the labor market is something that we urgently need to explore,” he said.

Pope Francis said: “I believe that these measures are necessary, but of course not sufficient… but I wanted to mention them because they are possible measures and would point us in the right direction. “

The global audience for today’s speech represents millions of social activists from popular movements on all continents, including those working in the odd-job economy, garbage collectors, farm workers and representatives. indigenous peoples.

In another part of his speech, he praised the protest movement against the death of George Floyd:

Do you know what comes to my mind now when, with popular movements, I think of the Good Samaritan? Do you know what comes to your mind? Protests against the death of George Floyd. It is clear that this type of reaction against social, racial or macho injustice can be manipulated or exploited by political or other machinations, but the main thing is that, in this protest against this death, there was the Samaritan Collective who don’t be fooled! This movement did not cross the road when it saw the assault on human dignity caused by the abuse of power. Popular movements are not only social poets but also collective Samaritans.

Throughout his pontificate, Francis sought to encourage grassroots movements and organizations around the world in their efforts to improve the lives of millions of people who live in poverty and misery. He asked the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to convene the First World Meeting of Popular Movements and spoke at this meeting at the Vatican in October 2014. He delivered a memorable speech to representatives of these movements in Santa Cruz, in Bolivia, in June 2015, and he addressed them again at a third meeting at the Vatican in November 2016. Today was his fourth meeting with the popular movements.

In his speech today to a virtual audience, Pope Francis delivered a powerful message when he recalled how the pandemic revealed the real state of the global economy where countless millions of people are struggling to survive in extreme poverty. Since their last meeting in Santa Cruz, he said: “A lot has happened during this period; Many things have changed. These changes mark points of no return, turning points, crossroads where humanity must make choices. And new moments of encounter, of discernment and of common action are necessary. Each person, each organization, each country, and the whole world, must seek moments to reflect, to discern and to choose because to return to the previous mentalities would be truly suicidal and, if I insist a little, ecocide and genocidal. “

“[When]I am thinking of the Good Samaritan, do you know what comes to your mind? Protests against the death of George Floyd, “said Pope Francis.

He said: “Personal change is necessary, but it is also essential to adjust our socio-economic models so that they have a human face because many models have lost it. And thinking about these situations, I piss myself off with my questions.

Aware that there are many, even in the Catholic Church, who criticize him for what he says on issues of social justice, Francis in his speech stressed that what he asks and says is all based on the social teaching of the Church and is consistent with what his predecessors, including John Paul II and Benedict XVI, taught. “The Pope must not stop talking about this teaching, even if it often annoys people because what is at stake is not the Pope but the Gospel.

In his speech, Francis made nine explicit appeals “in the name of God” to those responsible for different sectors of the world economy.

He asked “the big pharmaceutical companies to release the patents” of the Covid-19 vaccines. He appealed to them: “Make a gesture of humanity and allow every country, every people, every human being, to have access to vaccines. He reminded them that there are countries “where only three or four percent of the inhabitants have been vaccinated”. Although he didn’t mention it, most countries in Africa fall into this category.

He called on financial groups and international credit institutions “to enable poor countries to provide ‘the basic needs of their people’ and to cancel the debts that are so often contracted against the interests of these same peoples.

He begged “the big extractive industries – mining, oil, forestry, real estate, agro-industry – to stop destroying forests, wetlands and mountains, to stop polluting rivers and seas, to stop to poison food and people ”.

He called on big food companies “to stop imposing monopoly production and distribution systems that inflate prices and end up denying bread to the hungry.” He highlighted “the scourge of the food crisis” in the world and noted that in this year alone “20 million people have been dragged to an extreme level of food insecurity” while “severe deprivation has increased” and “the price of food has increased markedly.”

He mentioned a horrific number of people suffering in Syria, Haiti, Congo, Senegal, Yemen, South Sudan and other places. He said that “the annual deaths from hunger could exceed those from Covid! “

He called on arms manufacturers and dealers “to completely shut down their activity” because, he said, “it fosters violence and war, it contributes to these terrible geopolitical games which cost millions of displaced lives and millions of deaths “.

He begged “the tech giants to stop exploiting human weakness, people’s vulnerability, in the name of profit without worrying about the spread of hate speech, grooming, fake news, conspiracy theories and political manipulation “.

He called on “the telecommunications giants to facilitate access to teaching materials and connectivity for teachers via the Internet so that poor children can attend school even in quarantine.”

He called on “the media to stop the logic of post-truth, disinformation, slander, slander and the unhealthy attraction to filth and scandal, and to contribute to human brotherhood and empathy with those which are most deeply damaged ”.

He called on powerful countries “to put an end to aggressions, blockades and unilateral sanctions against any country in the world” and said: “No to neocolonialism”. He called for conflict resolution to take place in multilateral fora like the United Nations.

Pope Francis has delivered his verdict on the current economic system by declaring: “This system, with its implacable logic of profit, escapes all human control. But, he added, “It’s time to slow down the locomotive, an uncontrollable locomotive rushing into the abyss. There is still time. “

He called on governments and politicians from all parties “to represent their people and work for the common good”. He told them, “Stop listening exclusively to the economic elites, who so often spout superficial ideologies that ignore the real dilemmas of humanity” and encouraged them to serve instead “the people who ask for land, work, housing and a good life. “

As he did with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar when they signed the document on human brotherhood in Abu Dhabi on February 4, 2019, Pope Francis again called on his fellow religious leaders to “never use the name of God to foment wars or coups d’etat He invited them instead: “Let us stand in solidarity with the peoples, the workers, the humble, and fight with them so that integral human development becomes a reality.”

François also underlined that “it is necessary to confront together the populist speeches of intolerance, xenophobia and aaporophobia, which is the hatred of the poor”. He said that, “Like everything that leads us to indifference, meritocracy and individualism, these narratives only serve to divide our peoples and to undermine and nullify our poetic capacity, the capacity to dream together. .

He concluded by urging popular movements to continue their efforts to build a new economy and to “dream” of new ways of doing it.

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About Joaquin Robertson

Joaquin Robertson

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