Pope Francis has reminded Catholics around the world that “time devoted to prayer can never become an alibi for neglecting our neighbor in need.”
In his message for the 2020 World Day of the Poor, Lolo Kiko said that the coronavirus pandemic has revealed poverty that Catholics cannot turn a blind eye to. He said that God’s word does not allow for the faithful to be complacent especially in a time of need because “it constantly impels us to acts of love.”
Pope Francis stressed that the time given in to support the poor is not second to one’s personal interests. He wrote that “generosity that supports the weak, consoles the afflicted, relieves suffering, and restores dignity to those stripped of it, is a condition for fully human life.” (Read: The Pope’s Charity Chronicles)
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Lolo Kiko says that many people are feeling poorer and less self-sufficient.
He acknowledges that the pandemic has caught many nations unprepared, sparking a powerful sense of bewilderment and helplessness. However, he adds that through this, many people are made more aware of the presence of the poor and their need for help. (Read: 3 Ways Caritas PH Is Giving Support to Filipinos in Need)
“The present experience has challenged many of our assumptions,” says Pope Francis. “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. Our spiritual and material resources were called into question and we found ourselves experiencing fear.”
Pope Francis made an example of the words found in the Old Testament Book of Sirach. Quoting Sirach chapter two, the Pontiff said: “‘Do not be alarmed when disaster comes. Cling to him and do not leave him, so that you may be honored at the end of your days. Whatever happens to you, accept it, and in the uncertainties of your humble state, be patient, since gold is tested in the fire, and chosen men in the furnace of humiliation. Trust him and he will uphold you, follow a straight path and hope in him. You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; do not turn aside in case you fall.’”
A Charitable Church
Pope Francis further said that while there are no comprehensive solutions that the Church can offer, “she can offer her witness and her gestures of charity,” such as speaking out on behalf of those who lack life’s basic necessities.” (Watch: Meet the architect who dedicated his career to helping the urban poor)
“For the Christian people, to remind everyone of the great value of the common good is a vital commitment, expressed in the effort to ensure that no one whose human dignity is violated in its basic needs will be forgotten,” the Pope added.
“The ‘end’ of all our actions can only be love. This is the ultimate goal of our journey, and nothing should distract us from it.”
Just recently, Pope Francis has established Jesus the Divine Worker Fund for struggling families in Italy due to the coronavirus pandemic.