Pope Francis urges Christians to combat ‘culture of indifference’

Pope Francis has called on the human family to live in communion and in harmony with one another, not as subjects but as a people.

In his general audience on Aug. 12, the pontiff said Christian faith requires humanity to “be healed and converted” from individualism and indifference.

He stressed that faith exhorts the faithful “to commit ourselves seriously and actively to combat indifference in the face of violations of human dignity.”

The pontiff noted that while the world works for a cure for COVID-19, people should denounce the “culture of indifference that accompanies the throwaway culture.”

He said that this culture manifests in each member of the human family when “things that do not affect me, do not interest me.”

“The pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected everyone is,” he said.

“If we do not take care of one another, starting with the least, with those who are most impacted, including creation, we cannot heal the world,” added Pope Francis.

He said the pandemic has obliged the human family to heal not only the disease but “the broader social ills” that the global health crisis had exposed.

“One of these is a distorted view of the person, a perspective that ignores the dignity … of the person,” said the pontiff.

“At times we look at others as objects, to be used and discarded,” he said.

“In reality, this type of perspective blinds and fosters an individualistic and aggressive throw-away culture, which transforms the human being into a consumer good,” he added.

Pope Francis leaves at the end of the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square Vatican City, Oct. 16, 2019. (Photo by Riccardo De Luca/shutterstock.com)

The pope, however, said that faith compels the human family to look at a man and a woman “in another manner” as to how God created human beings.

“He created us not as objects but as people loved and capable of loving; He has created us in His image and likeness,” he said.

The pontiff reminded the public that the Creator has given the human family “a unique dignity, calling us to live in communion with Him, in communion with our sisters and our brothers, with respect for all creation.”

“In communion, in harmony, we might say,” said Pope Francis.

He stressed that the Creator “gives us the ability to procreate and safeguard life, to till and keep the land.”

“It is clear that one cannot procreate and safeguard life without harmony; it will be destroyed,” said the pope.

“Harmony leads you to recognize human dignity, that harmony created by God, with humanity at the center,” the pope said.

The pontiff reflected on the Gospel that tells Christians that “seeking to climb in life, to be superior to others, destroys harmony.”

He said that harmony can only be achieved if a human being will offer oneself in the “service” of others and not by “dominating others.”

The pontiff invited the faithful to ask the Creator “to give us eyes attentive to our brothers and sisters, especially those who are suffering.”

“As Jesus’s disciples, we do not want to be indifferent or individualistic. These are the two unpleasant attitudes that run counter to harmony,” the pope said.

The pontiff expressed that people become “indifferent” when we “look the other way” and when we are “looking out only for one’s own interest,” we become “individualists.”

Pope Francis said the “harmony created by God” demands the human family “to look at others, the needs of others, the problems of others, in communion.”

“We want to recognize the human dignity in every person, whatever his or her race, language, or condition might be,” said the pontiff.

“The Second Vatican Council emphasizes that this dignity is inalienable because it ‘was created ‘to the image of God’,” he said.

In our time, Pope Francis said, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is “the closest reference to the principle of the inalienable dignity of the person.”

A portrait of Pope St. John Paul II on a card in a kiosk against a busy Rome street, Aug. 5, 2011. (Photo by Photoillustrator/shutterstock.com)

The pontiff recalled Pope St. John Paul II who defined the declaration as a “milestone on the long and difficult path of the human race” and as “one of the highest expressions of the human conscience.”

The saint also stressed that “rights are not only individual, but also social; they are of peoples, nations.”

Pope Francis said that social beings “need to live in this social harmony.”

The pontiff, however, said that selfishness, or an outlook that “does not reach others, the community, but focuses on ourselves,” which “makes us ugly, nasty, and selfish,” destroys harmony.

Pope Francis said that the “renewed awareness of the dignity of every human being has serious social, economic, and political implications.”

He said that if the human family will perceive people and the creation “as a gift received from the love” of the Creator, it “inspires attentive behavior, care, and wonder.” 

“In this way, the believer, contemplating his or her neighbor as a brother or sister, and not as a stranger, looks at him or her compassionately and empathetically, not contemptuously or with hostility,” said the pope. 

“Contemplating the world in the light of faith, with the help of grace, we strive to develop our creativity and enthusiasm in order to resolve the ordeals of the past,” he added.

Pope Francis prayed that the Creator “restore our sight” and allow everyone to “rediscover what it means to be members of the human family.”

“May this sight be translated into concrete actions of compassion and respect for every person and of care and safeguarding of our common home,” he said.

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