Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the Vatican’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, criticized what he said as the tendency of governments to hide the poor.
The prelate lamented how “the poor are usually buried” so they wouldn’t be seen by foreign visitors during big international events.
“When we have international guests, one thing that governments do is to hide the poor for they are a cause of shame and embarrassment,” said Cardinal Tagle in his homily during Mass to mark the 4th “World Day of the Poor” at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino in Rome.
He said Christians are called to proclaim Jesus without fear, and without shame, adding that actions against the poor are just among the “many ways in which we bury Jesus.”
“If we bury Jesus, our treasure, and bury our faith, we are just one step away from burying the poor into forgetfulness, neglect,” said the cardinal.
The annual World Day of the Poor was instituted by Pope Francis in 2016 at the end of the observance of the Year of Mercy.
In a Mass at the Vatican, the pope said that serving the needy is the core of the Gospel.
Pope Francis said the preferential option for the poor is “the key criterion of Christian authenticity.”
“Do not forget: the poor are at the center of the Gospel; the Gospel cannot be understood without the poor,” the pope said.
“The poor guarantee us an eternal income, and even now they help us become rich in love,” he said. “For the worst kind of poverty needing to be combatted is our poverty of love,” he added.
Speaking from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square on November 15, the pope urged Christians to discover Jesus in the needy.
“At times, we think that to be Christian means not to do harm. And not doing harm is good. But not doing good is not good. We must do good, to come out of ourselves and look, look at those who have more need,” he said
The pope noted that priests and bishops who preach about the poor are sometimes reproached by those who say that they should be speaking about eternal life instead.
After reciting the Angelus on Sunday, the pope said that he was praying for the people of the Philippines, struck last week by a devastating typhoon.
Typhoon “Ulysses (Vamco)” killed dozens of people and forced tens of thousands to seek shelter in evacuation centers.
“I express my solidarity to the poorest families who have been subjected to these calamities, and my support to those who are trying to aid them,” he said.