Pope Francis warns of danger of ‘fascination with populism’

Pope Francis warns of danger of ‘fascination with populism’
Pope Francis warns of danger of ‘fascination with populism’

Pope Francis warned of “dangerous diseases” that threaten democracy, such as skepticism or the “fascination of populism,” in a text published Saturday before traveling to the Italian city of Trieste (northeast) on Sunday.

“We know that ‘democracy’ is a term that originated in ancient Greece to indicate the power exercised by the people through their representatives. A form of government that, while it has spread globally in recent decades, also seems to suffer from the consequences of a dangerous disease, democratic skepticism,” says the Argentine pontiff.

His unpublished reflections are the introduction to an anthology of his messages entitled “To the Heart of Democracy” and are published by the newspaper “Il Piccolo” in anticipation of the Pope’s visit to Trieste on Sunday to take part in the closing ceremony of the 50th Social Week of Catholics in Italy.

In the document, Pope Francis highlights the problems that democratic systems encounter, such as inequality in their societies or what he usually calls the “technocratic paradigm”, that is, the imposition of new technologies in the life of humanity.

“The difficulty of democracies in coping with the complexity of the present time – we think of the problems linked to the lack of work or the power of the technocratic paradigm – often seems to give way to the fascination of populism,” Pope Francis said.

The pontiff defended the ability to be “together” as “a great and undoubted value”: “The exercise of government takes place within the framework of a community that debates, freely and secularly, for the common good, which is another way of calling politics,” he noted.

“I would like, thinking about today, to say what the ‘heart’ of democracy means: together is better than alone, which is worse. Together is beautiful because alone is sad. Together means that one plus one is not two, but three, because participation and cooperation create what economists call attached value,” he said.

Pope Francis also showed the other side of the coin: the “statist” or “dirigiste” regimes in which “no one participates, everyone assists, passively.”

“Democracy implies participation, it asks us to put ourselves in the place of others, to risk debate, to bring into the question our own ideals, our own reasons. To take risks. Risk is fertile ground in which freedom germinates,” he said.

And he concluded: “On the contrary, ‘balconear’ (in Spanish), to see from the window everything that happens around us, is not only not ethically acceptable, but also selfish, unwise and unconvenient.”

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