In his message for the fifth World Day of the Poor, celebrated in the Catholic Church globally on 14 November 2021, Pope Francis has challenged the faithful to seek out and help the poor wherever they are:
“We cannot wait for the poor to knock on our door; we need urgently to reach them in their homes, in hospitals and nursing homes, on the streets and in the dark corners where they sometimes hide, in shelters and reception centres. It is important to understand how they feel, what they are experiencing and what their hearts desire.”
He also stresses that the poor have much to teach us and actually help us to look into the “true face” of God. They retain the dignity of God’s children that can’t be taken away:
“For this reason, a different approach to poverty is required. This is a challenge that governments and world institutions need to take up with a farsighted social model capable of countering the new forms of poverty that are now sweeping the world and will decisively affect coming decades.
“If the poor are marginalised, as if they were to blame for their condition, then the very concept of democracy is jeopardised and every social policy will prove bankrupt. With great humility, we should confess that we are often incompetent when it comes to the poor. We talk about them in the abstract; we stop at statistics and we think we can move people’s hearts by filming a documentary.
“Poverty, on the contrary, should motivate us to creative planning, aimed at increasing the freedom needed to live a life of fulfilment according to the abilities of each person. It is an illusion, which we should reject, to think that freedom comes about and grows through the possession of money. Serving the poor effectively moves us into action and makes it possible to find the most suitable ways of raising and promoting this part of humanity that all too often is anonymous and voiceless, but which has imprinted on it the face of the Saviour who asks for our help.”
Download the Holy Father’s full message: