While much of yesterday's PopeTrip news-cycle fixated on what Francis did or didn't say to the Bolivian President Evo Morales on receiving a crucifix in the shape of a Communist hammer and sickle – or the reported use of a Burger King as a makeshift sacristy before yesterday's mega-Mass – yet again, the big story in reality lay elsewhere: his unleashing of a bombshell text that immediately takes its place among the handful of truly landmark addresses of this pontificate.
Before a summit of social movements representing workers, the poor and marginalized, the Pope delivered one of the longest and strongest speeches of his 28 months as Bishop of Rome – a loaded call for social justice born from "the barrio, the land, the office, the labor union" and its demand for "real change, structural change" from the "tyranny of mammon" through a revolution of an "intolerable" economic system that, he said, "runs counter to the plan of Jesus" as it "kills," "excludes" and "destroys Mother Earth."
The address was the second Papa Bergoglio's given to the World Meeting of Popular Movements – a joint venture of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Vatican's Academy for Social Sciences – following his appearance at an initial gathering in Rome last October.
In a rarity for a speech from the usually free-wheeling Pope, the heavily programmatic product was laid out in numbered paragraphs with footnote citations – not merely a signal of its import, but the intent for the text to be received less as fleeting remarks able to be discounted than an enduring, consequential teaching document.
The centerpiece talk of this eight-day trek – which, later today, enters its home-stretch in Paraguay – the bombshell speech indeed doubles as the principal curtain-raiser to date for the most intensely awaited moment of Francis' September US trip: the unprecedented papal address to a joint meeting of Congress (for which, it emerged this week, an inauguration-style staging area is being planned on the Capitol's West Front so the Pope can greet an overflow crowd after the speech's simulcast on outdoor screens).
In the meantime, a manifesto of this magnitude has already seen no shortage of attempts at summary and will birth a flood of commentary for weeks. Even for that, just do your intelligence the favor of reading the actual text first.
Continue reading HERE.