The Pope has thrown his weight behind the world’s “popular movements”, groups that he said “represent an important social alternative, a cry from the depths, a sign of contradiction, and a hope that ‘everything can change'”.

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“Popular movements are a concrete, tangible witness demonstrating that it is possible to contrast our throw-away culture… with the creation of new forms of work that are centered on solidarity and the community”, Francis wrote in a preface to a new book, The Emergence of Popular Movements: Rerum Novarum of our time, as Vatican News reports.

“Popular movements” (movimientos populares in Spanish) is the name given to grassroots organisations that work with the Church to address what Pope Francis called in Evangelii Gaudium, his Apostolic Exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world, the “economy of exclusion and inequality”.

These organisations work for structural changes that promote social, economic and racial justice.


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In his preface to the book, the Pope called these popular movements “a lever for profound social transformation”.

Francis added that the movements’ resistance to the “tyranny of money” shows they are “sentinels” of a “better future”.

The world is currently going through a “change of epoch” marked by a “transnational crisis of liberal democracy”, the Pope explained.

“Fear is today the means of manipulation of civilisations, the catalyst of xenophobia and racism. A terror sown in the peripheries of the world, with looting, oppression and injustice, which explodes as we have seen in our recent past also in the centres of the Western world”, Francis denounced.

But in the midst of this chaos, he added, “popular movements can represent a source of moral energy to revitalise our democracies”.

“The antidote to populism and political showmanship lies in the efforts of organized citizens” like the popular movements, which “express how the ‘force of us’ is the answer to the ‘culture of self’ that looks only at the satisfaction of one’s own interests”, the Pope explained.

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For the record

Popular movements represent an alternative to a greedy economy that condemns millions of men and women the world over to a life of poverty and misery, Francis said.

These groups represent an active resistance “to this idolatrous system that excludes and degrades, and with their experience they show that rivalry, envy and oppression are not necessarily agents of growth, and that concord, gratuity and equality can also grow the gross domestic product”, the Pope explained.

In the midst of the “paralysis and disorientation” many societies are experiencing today, “the political participation of the Popular Movements can defeat the politics of false prophets, who exploit fear and despair and who preach selfish well-being and illusory security”, Francis affirmed.

The Pope concluded his text calling for a “new humanism that puts an end to the illiteracy of compassion and the progressive eclipse of culture and the notion of common good”.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.