Accra, Nov 10, GNA – Pope Francis says: “There should be no family without a home, no farmer without land and no worker without rights,” Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Associate Executive Director of Wacam, human rights, environmental and mining advocacy non-governmental organisation, told GNA in an interview.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng, was speaking on her return from Vatican, where she attended The First Global Meeting of Popular Movements organised by Pope Francis through the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on three thematic areas of Land, Housing and Labour from October 27 to 29, 2014.
The meeting brought together over 150 representatives of Popular Movements, Priests, Bishops, Arch Bishops and Cardinals working on different issues relating to land, housing and labour, which affect the poor and marginalised in all the corners of the earth.
She said: “Pope Francis spoke strongly against global inequalities and called for a change of the system which he described as “an idolatrous cult of money and global indifference.”The Holy Father expressed the strong view that Jesus would call “hypocrite” those who want to face “the scandal of poverty by promoting strategies of containment that only convert the poor into domestic and inoffensive beings.
“Pope Francis admitted that the Popular Movements find themselves confronting strong forces which he described as ‘the destructive effects of the empire of money’ and asked the Popular Movements to build alternative social structures with courage but also with intelligence, tenacity, passion and not violence. He said that the meeting of the Popular Movements is a great sign that the poor “will not settle for illusory promises, excuses or alibis.
“The Holy Father said that solidarity “means more than some generous, sporadic acts. It is to think and act in terms of the community. It is also to fight against the structural causes of poverty, inequality, unemployment, loss of land, housing problems, social and labour rights.
“On the issue of unemployment, Pope Francis said: ‘There is no material poverty worse than the one where it is impossible to earn a living and without the dignity of work. Unemployment is not inevitable, but is the result of a social option, of an economic system that puts profits before the person; a culture that rejects the human being as a commodity.
“The Pope told the popular movements to raise their voices; ‘we want your voices to be heard than in general go unheard… perhaps because people are afraid of the change you demand’”.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said the meeting was opened by His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson, who described the meeting as an opportunity to listen not only to the sufferings but the hopes and aspirations of the poor and marginalised.
Cardinal Turkson said: “The poor must be protagonists of their own lives, and not simply passive recipients of the charity or plans of others. They must be protagonists of the needed economic and social, political and cultural changes.
“His Eminence Cardinal Turkson was of the view that individuals and families live with enormous sufferings and every country seems to be infected with what he described as a ‘throw-away’ culture with the population of marginalised and rejected people especially among the youth and the old increasing.
“Cardinal Turkson reminded the meeting that it is for these reasons that ‘Pope Francis continually reminds the Church to go to the peripheries of human existence and embrace the excluded, the marginalised, those who are rejected and in danger of being discarded.”
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said: “His Eminence Cardinal Turkson asked the representatives of the Popular Movements to regard themselves as people, who have been entrusted with the responsibility of stewardship for the poor and marginalised when he led the celebration of mass for the representatives of the Popular Movements in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on the second day of the meeting”.
She said: “Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, who attended the meeting in his capacity as an indigenous person addressed the meeting and affirmed the statements of the Pope that land, work and housing should be recognised as human rights.”
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng expressed her gratitude to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences for inviting her to the First Global Meeting of Popular Movements, which gave her the opportunity to carry a message from the poor mining communities in Ghana to the Holy Father.