Selfish, materialistic lifestyles help fuel poverty, says Pope Francis

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A boy sells eggs on the streets of Bangui, Central African Republic, in April 2021. CNS photo/Ines Kpakole, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY, (Catholic News Service) – Poverty is the result of people’s selfishness; it is not “fate” or the fault of the poor, Pope Francis said.

“Unless we choose to become poor in passing riches, worldly power and vanity, we will never be able to give our lives in love; we will live a fragmented existence, full of good intentions but ineffective for transforming the world,” the pope said in a message for the World Day of the Poor.

“We need, therefore, to open ourselves decisively to the grace of Christ, which can make us witnesses of his boundless charity and restore credibility to our presence in the world,” the pope said in the message dated June 13, the feast of St Anthony of Padua, patron saint of the poor. The Vatican released the message to the public June 14.

The World Day of the Poor – marked each year on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time – will be celebrated November 14 this year and focuses on a verse, “The poor you will always have with you” (Mk 14:7).

However, people must never become indifferent knowing there will always be poverty in the world and among their neighbors, the pope said.

Jesus always sides with the poor and he “shares their lot,” he said.

“This is a powerful lesson for his disciples in every age,” he said, because it calls people to directly engage in “a mutual sharing of life” with the poor, who are not “outside our communities, but brothers and sisters whose sufferings we should share in an effort to alleviate their difficulties and marginalization, restore their lost dignity and ensure their necessary social inclusion.”

“Mutual sharing generates fraternity” that is enduring, it strengthens solidarity and it lays the necessary foundations for achieving justice, he said. Almsgiving, on the other hand, is only occasional and “risks gratifying those who perform it and can prove demeaning for those who receive it.”

Of the many saints who lived this mutual sharing with the poor, he said, is St Damien of Molokai, who died of Hansen’s disease in 1889 after spending the last 16 years of his life caring for people with the disease, who were permanently quarantined in Kalaupapa on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

“His testimony is most timely in our own days, marked by the coronavirus pandemic,” the pope said, adding that God’s grace is at work in “all those who, without fanfare, spend themselves for the poorest, sharing with them in concrete ways.”

A disciple of Christ chooses not to accumulate “earthly treasures, which give the illusion of a security that is actually fragile and fleeting. It requires a willingness to be set free from all that holds us back from achieving true happiness and bliss, in order to recognize what is lasting, what cannot be destroyed by anyone or anything,” Pope Francis said.

Also, Christians must recognize all the different and “excessive forms of moral and social disorder that are generating ever new forms of poverty,” he said.

Unfortunately, he said, there is a growing notion that the poor are responsible for their condition…  – Read the full article here.

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