‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’
In his message for the third World Day of the Poor, celebrated on 17 November 2019, Pope Francis reminds us that “the poor are not numbers, but people”, to be assisted, accompanied, protected, defended and saved. He recalled that this is not possible without the humility of listening, the charism of the whole, the courage of renunciation. He reminded us that to “follow the way of charity, of humility and of listening means lending an ear to the little ones”, because God reveals himself through them. And he asked us not to look down on anyone from above. “You can only look down at a person from above,” he insisted, “in order to help them get up”.
During his audience with delegates of the Caritas Internationalis General Assembly on 27 May 2019, the Pope called for serious action in this regard. He urged us to live our mission with a style of poverty, gratuitousness and humility. He insisted that we cannot live charity without having interpersonal relationships with the poor: living with and for the poor. He denounced any hypocritical and deceptive charity that merely gives alms, and acts as if to salve our worried conscience. For the Pope, charity is not to be equated with philanthropic effectiveness, planning efficiency or even an overstated and agitated organisation. He invited us to cultivate a personal encounter with Christ, in order to meet him in the poor (see Matt. 25).
Testimonies: Hear the Cry of the Poor
I have been in and out of the care system since I was very young, I fell in with some dangerous people and got hooked into prostitution as a way to make money. I got more into drugs and alcohol, committing various crimes to help support my habit. I was absolutely destitute, dirty and down. I felt lost and trapped in this life style. In and out of hostels and prisons, and sometimes sleeping on the streets.
One day someone told me about a women’s centre called women@thewell and how I could get help. I got assigned a named worker there who helped me address problems and helped me to get into accommodation. Now I feel like I have managed to get my act together. I have a studio flat and am starting to build bridges with my family. I want to do some courses so I can maybe get employment.”
Louise – supported by women@thewell (http://www.watw.org.uk)
“I thought I had no life. I thought this was the end. Because I was walking the streets. Since 2010 I have been evicted from three different places and been in trouble with the police through anti-social behaviour. I was bored. There was nothing else to do. Cornerstone has been a big help. If it wasn’t for them I could have been found in a doorway, either dead or … I don’t know. I come to Cornerstone everyday. They helped me get the place I have now. It’s the best thing since sliced bread. If you’re on the streets and you need help, come here and you’ll get sorted.”
John – Cornerstone Client (http://www.cornerstonecds.org.uk)
“I had to give up work due to ill health and while I was waiting for benefit to be sorted I was struggling with bills and food. I had to keep a roof over mine and my daughter’s head. I was told about the food bank – not only did they supply a few days’ worth of food but they were very caring people, very supportive always lending an ear. In the six weeks holiday it’s hard to keep kids amused when you don’t always have the money, so I go to the food bank lunches, which myself and my daughter enjoy. There’s activities for them to do and you get a lunch then able to take a bag of shopping home.” – Debbie
“During 2016 myself and family was having a difficult time. I was given a food bank voucher and, feeling a bit embarrassed, I went to the Borehamwood food bank to be welcomed with open arms. I used the food bank on a couple other occasions. I was told about the family lunches that they provide during the school holidays to help those in need. I went along with my three children who all enjoy their time. I asked if they would like any help for there next one and I have now been helping with the last few family lunches.” Anonymous
From people using the food bank at St Teresa’s Parish in Borehamwood borehamwood.foodbank.org.uk
Prayer Card for 2019 (pdf, 3mb)
Poster for 2019 (pdf, 2mb)
2019 World Day of the Poor logo with white background
A brief introduction to Catholic Social Teaching – 5-10 minute read (pdf, 0.1mb)
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