Emmaus International

Pepe Aravena, founder of the Emmaus Las Urracas group in Chile provides his analysis of the underlying causes of this crisis and calls on us to implement the “Emmaus Method” in order to move forward.


We are experiencing the consequences of a structural crisis of capitalism or the so-called “modernity project”. The capitalist system, due to its own dynamic, generates its crises which can be cyclical or structural. The current crisis has been developing since the 1970s, defined as affecting the structure itself in its entirety, in the economic, social, political and cultural fields. The current structural crisis of the capitalist system is presented as a basic contradiction which cannot separate advancement from destruction and progress from waste.

We are reminded of the words of François Houtart when he stated: “Capitalism will not disappear of its own accord. It will defend itself until the end. It is capable of destroying half of humanity to save itself as a system and this implies social battles.”

In the context of the structural crisis, in December 2019 the phenomenon of the coronavirus emerged in China as an epidemic and then quickly spread throughout the rest of the world as large-scale pandemic. In this scenario, a new phenomenon was not created, rather it revealed the inequalities between and within countries, the huge differences between social classes, inequalities of access in public health policies. It is remarkable the difference in those countries where health is in the hands of the state, which cares about the wellbeing of its population, with lower infection rates and deaths, using the primary healthcare networks to identify clusters of infection and to establish geo-referential lockdowns developed with the people. There is a stark contrast in those countries where the health of their nations has been left in the hands of the private market, reducing it to a service for those who can afford to pay for it, benefitting the private sector by trespassing on the states’ resources.

From the Emmaus Movement

Emmaus should assume its “prophetic” role, denouncing capitalism and the dominant classes who sustain it, as the great enemies of the poor, oppressed, indigenous peoples and mother nature.

Declaring that another way of life and another society is possible, to build a society with fraternal relationships, free from exploitation, and which ensures universal access to the “Preliminaries of Freedom”.

We are in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, which solves everything for capitalism. This is a time to take adequate health measures, remembering that our limitations are "physical movement", not social, and we must keep our critical consciousness intact to prepare for what is coming soon.

The system wants to keep us dormant, living in fear and uncertainty. Faced with these expectations, we must prepare ourselves to turn this moment into a crucible, where reflections and new ideas are founded so that the Emmaus spirit and spirituality can be strengthened and our work and struggle for the liberation of the poor, oppressed, indigenous peoples and mother earth can be consciously and actively reaffirmed.

Faced with this crisis

We must go deeper, using the “Emmaus Method” to act immediately in the emergency situations caused by this pandemic and at the same time, to fight against the causes that have created a situation which is worse for the poor and oppressed due to existing inequalities; acting together as a movement with other social and political organisations.

From the south of the world we want to end these thoughts by recalling the dream of President Salvador Allende, in Chile 50 years ago, when he came to power in 1970 together with the people and with a social equality and justice programme.

We call on you to work, fight and study with the strength and mysticism that Abbé Pierre brought to us when he asked us to join the “war against poverty, its causes and those responsible”.

Pepe Aravena,
Founder of the Emmaus Las Urracas group in Chile