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A ‘great river of poverty’ is traversing our cities, says Pope Francis (CNS/David Gray, Reuters)

Pope Francis has released his message for the annual World Day of the Poor, stressing that a “great river of poverty is traversing our cities”, and that every Christian is called to become “personally involved” in the struggle against it. Source: Vatican News.

His message for the World Day, which will be celebrated this year on Sunday, November 19, takes the form of an extended reflection on the Book of Tobit.

Pope Francis begins his message by stressing that “a great river of poverty is traversing our cities and swelling to the point of overflowing; it seems to overwhelm us, so great are the needs of our brothers and sisters who plead for our help, support and solidarity”.

“We are living”, he continues, “in times that are not particularly sensitive to the needs of the poor. The pressure to adopt an affluent lifestyle increases, while the voices of those dwelling in poverty tend to go unheard.”

In particular, he stresses “new forms of poverty”, such as “peoples caught up in situations of war”, the “inhumane treatment” of many workers, and “speculation in various sectors”, which he said had led to “dramatic price increases that further impoverish many families”.

Faced with problems of this magnitude, Pope Francis writes, our responsibility is clear. We must heed Tobit’s words to Tobias: “Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor.”

“In a word,” he continues, “whenever we encounter a poor person, we cannot look away, for that would prevent us from encountering the face of the Lord Jesus.”

Thus, “the parable of the Good Samaritan [cf. Lk 10:25-37] is not simply a story from the past; it continues to challenge each of us in the here and now of our daily lives.  It is easy to delegate charity to others, yet the calling of every Christian is to become personally involved.”


Pope’s World Day of the Poor message: Don’t look away! (By Joseph Tulloch, Vatican News)