Pope Francis apologized Thursday for what he called the Roman Catholic Church's complicity in committing "grave sins" against Native Americans "in the name of God" during the oppression of Latin America in the colonial era.
In an address in Bolivia at the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements, a congress of global activists working to mobilize and help the poor, the pope also called for a global social movement to break down the "new colonialism" that has exploited the poor and promoted inequality and materialism, according to a report in The New York Times.
"Some may rightly say, 'When the pope speaks of colonialism, he overlooks certain actions of the church,'" said Francis. "I say this to you with regret: Many grave sins were committed against the native people of America in the name of God." more >>
Pope Francis has called the unfettered pursuit of money "the dung of the devil" in a strongly worded condemnation of the global treatment of poor people. Speaking on Thursday at the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Francis also told Christians it is their "commandment" to fight for the "just distribution of the fruits of the Earth."
Francis, who is on a tour of several South American countries, told the Bolivian faithful that as the scientific community warns, "irreversible harm" is being done to the ecosystem, which is "brutally punishing" entire populations. He then referred to the "unfettered pursuit of money" as the "dung of the devil," which leaves behind the service of the common good:
"Once capital becomes an idol and guides people's decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home." more >>
Pope Francis started his nine-day tour of Latin America, his first as pontiff, on Sunday, arriving in Quito, Ecuador, where he said, "No one, save Jesus Christ, possesses his or her own light." During his trip, Francis is likely to focus on poverty and inequality as well as reiterate his concern for the environment.
"I have come as a witness of God's mercy and of faith in Jesus Christ," Francis said in his prepared remarks at the welcome ceremony Sunday in Quito.
Children in traditional dress greeted the pope at the Mariscal Sucre airport, and shook hands with many of them. more >>
Pope Francis compared the recent killing of Christians by terrorist groups such as ISIS to the persecution of the Christian church in the first century while celebrating the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul on Monday.
In his homily, Francis used a passage from the book of Acts to illustrate how the early Church was "besieged by persecution."
He said first century Christians were "harshly persecuted by Herod who 'laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church … proceeded to arrest Peter also … and when he had seized him he put him in prison." more >>
Close to 100 evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders in the U.S. have united in a message calling on Christians to act on their "moral obligation" to fight climate change, which they also called a pro-life issue, following on Pope Francis' environmental encyclical released last week.
"As Catholic and evangelical leaders, we are deeply inspired by Pope Francis' encyclical addressing our shared responsibility to be prudent stewards of creation. Pope Francis has issued a bold call to action, and the clock is ticking on a challenge that requires a collective effort in service of the global common good," the religious leaders said in a full-page advertisement on the back page of Politico.
"As citizens of the most powerful nation in human history, we have a unique responsibility to promote sustainable development, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and build a thriving culture of life that protects human dignity," they added. more >>
Some Christian gun owners disagree with Pope Francis' statement that people who manufacture or invest in weapons cannot call themselves Christians.
Francis issued his strongest condemnation of guns during his visit to the Italian city of Turin on Sunday, saying, "If you trust only men, you have lost."
He added: "It makes me think of people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn't it?" more >>