Did not the others, crowding in, distort
the man I am?
Being each of them, always imperfect,
myself to myself too near,
he who survives in me, can he ever look at himself with-
out fear? □
( May 20, 1988) After one week in South America, Pope John Paul launched his most devastating attack on capitalism May 11 in the continent's poorest country, Bolivia.
Speaking on a dusty field at Oruro to a crowd of 100,000, he said, "Certainly, one cannot deny the good results achieved by the joint efforts of private and public initiatives in those countries where a regime of liberty rules."
But this was his only concession to capitalism.
He went on, "These achievements, however, should not blind one to the defects of an economic system whose principal motive is profit, where man is subordinated to capital, turning him into a cog in an immense machine, reducing his work to a piece of merchandise at the mercy of the ups and downs of the laws of supply and demand."
In saying this, John Paul was backing the Bolivian bishops who wanted him to "question the structures that prevent people from overcoming their situation," as Bishop Julio Terrazas, president of the Bolivian episcopal conference, put it.
Besides speaking, John Paul also listened.
He heard a mine union leader evoke the unemployment in the tin mines: "Today, you have not been able to hear the calling of the sirens because our tunnels are empty, and in our mining camps you can hear only the cries of the children because they cannot put bread in their mouths."