POPE FRANCIS reminded the faithful to revive the “sense of responsibility” for the poor or face a continuing crises due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a message published by the Vatican on June 13, the pontiff said the pandemic “has made us all the more aware of the presence of the poor in our midst and their need for help.”
The message was intended for the celebration of the 4th World Day of the Poor that the Catholic Church marks on Nov. 15, 2020.
“The silent cry of so many poor men, women, and children should find the people of God at the forefront, always and everywhere, in efforts to give them a voice, to protect and support them in the face of hypocrisy and so many unfulfilled promises, and to invite them to share in the life of the community,” read the message.
Pope Francis acknowledged that “the Church certainly has no comprehensive solutions to propose,” but she can “offer her witness and her gestures of charity.”
“She likewise feels compelled to speak out on behalf of those who lack life’s basic necessities,” added the pope.
He said the pandemic made us “feel poorer and less self-sufficient because we have come to sense our limitations and the restriction of our freedom.”
“The loss of employment, and of opportunities to be close to our loved ones and our regular acquaintances, suddenly opened our eyes to horizons that we had long since taken for granted,” he said.
The pope said that this year’s theme of the celebration of the World Day of the Poor — “Stretch forth your hand to the poor” — “is thus a summons to responsibility and commitment as men and women who are part of our one human family.”
“We have been unable to be close to those who suffer, and at the same time, we have become more aware of the fragility of our own lives. The word of God allows for no complacency; it constantly impels us to acts of love,” the pontiff said.
Pope Francis criticized “those who prefer to keep their hands in their pockets and to remain unmoved by situations of poverty in which they are often complicit.”
He said some hands are stretched “to touch computer keys to transfer sums of money” that ensures “the wealth of an elite few and the dire poverty of millions and the ruin of entire nations.”
He lambasted the hands that “accumulate money by the sale of weapons that others, including those of children, use to sow death and poverty.”
“Other hands are outstretched to deal doses of death in dark alleys in order to grow rich and live in luxury and excess, or to quietly pass a bribe for the sake of quick and corrupt gain,” he added.
The pope said the “globalization of indifference” has made people “incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor.”
“We cannot be happy until these hands that sow death are transformed into instruments of justice and peace for the whole world,” he said.
The pontiff expressed that in order to achieve the fullness of human life, our hands must perform the acts of “generosity that supports the weak, consoles the afflicted, relieves suffering, and restores dignity to those stripped of it.”
“Keeping our gaze fixed on the poor is difficult, but more necessary than ever if we are to give proper direction to our personal life and the life of society,” he said.