Bro. Alberto Degan MCCJ

In the second chapter of FT, the pope comments on the good Samaritan’s parable, which tells us about a wounded person and our attitudes toward the wounded. The central message of this parable is that wounded and discarded people are God’s priority. So the marginalized and the victims of violence are also the priority of our missionary action. And it is not a political option, but an option of faith: being Christians “implies recognizing the same Christ in every abandoned or excluded brother” (FT 85). In fact, “we have grown in many respects, although we are illiterate in accompanying, caring for and sustaining the most fragile and weak in our developed societies” (63). Francis stresses that our societies are ‘developed’ economically and technically, but they are underdeveloped in love and social solidarity: we are illiterate in the care of the most fragile, that is, what should be proper to the experience of our faith.

The wounded man represents Humanity despised and stripped of everything by his own brothers. In this wounded man, as the Afro-Ecuadorian Missionaries affirm, “our black people are also recognized, who still suffer the blows of racial discrimination and have to fight for the full recognition of their citizenship. Our black people migrate in search of better days, but not everyone realizes their goals: many end up beaten and stripped of all their rights.”

The pope emphasizes that the two persons who remain indifferent to the pain of the wounded – the priest and the Levite – are religious people. Historically, the Church has been an accomplice of the ‘criminals’ who enslaved the blacks in America. That is why, Francis affirms, “I am amazed that it has taken so long for the Church to strongly condemn the slavery” (86).

The Latin American Church is on the side of the oppressed, stressing that, although there is no more slavery, “there is still a mentality of less respect forIndigenous and AfricanAmericans. So decolonizing minds and knowledgeare conditions for the affirmation of the full citizenship of these peoples” (Aparecida 96).

Decolonizing minds means radically changing the way we look at the Afro People: seeing them not only as recipients but as subjects of Evangelization and as bearers of values. In fact, the African American people suffer not only from being exploited to the economic point, but also from being discriminated against and at a time of their identity and cultural dignity. That is why, the Afro-Ecuadorian Missionaries affirm: “we claim the right to cultivate our worldview and our specific spirituality, and to be original producers of culture.Throughout history the Empire has tried to destroy our cultural heritage; but in the face ofthat, we have always had an incredible ability to rise from the ashes, and to recreate our identity.”

As Francis affirms, “in certain sectors, there is a contempt for the poor and their culture” (73). African Americans want to be recognized as producers and bearers of cultural and spiritual values. Only when society recognizes the great contribution that African Americans have made and continue to make to the spiritual and cultural life of our continent will it put an end to the violence and contempt of which the black people are victims in America.

At the end of the second chapter of FT Francis states: “It is important that catechesis and preaching include more directly… the fraternal dimension of spirituality” (86). This means that in the spiritual life all peoples are called to collaborate and to enrich themselves reciprocally from their respective experiences of Christ.

As for discrimination in the social sphere, this is due to our “social and political neglect” (FT 71): politics is called to re-focus on the construction of the common good, overcoming all kinds of discrimination and guaranteeing, above all, the dignity, and rights of the ‘discarded’. Reconquering this Christian dimension of politics is a missionary challenge for all the disciples of Jesus.

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