Pope Francis delivers a speech at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome on June 10. (Photo by Tiziana Fabi/AFP)
People cannot sit back and be indifferent or unresponsive to growing poverty in the world as a privileged minority accumulates "ostentatious wealth," Pope Francis said.
"God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls and fences, betraying the original gift meant for all humanity, with none excluded," Catholic News Service reported the pope as saying in a message for the first World Day of the Poor.
The newly established commemoration and the period of reflection and action preceding it are meant to help Christians develop and maintain a more consistent and sincere lifestyle built on sharing, simplicity and the essential truths of the Gospel, the pope said in the message released June 13, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua.
The World Day of the Poor — to be marked each year on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary time — will be celebrated Nov. 19 this year.
There are so many forms of material and spiritual poverty that poison people's hearts and harm their dignity, the pope said.
Too often Christians have taken on "a worldly way of thinking" and forgotten to keep their gaze and goals focused on Christ, who is present in those who are broken and vulnerable.
"Poverty has the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money," he said.
"Tragically, in our own time, even as ostentatious wealth accumulates in the hands of the privileged few, often in connection with illegal activities and the appalling exploitation of human dignity, there is a scandalous growth of poverty in broad sectors of society throughout our world," he said.
"Faced with this scenario, we cannot remain passive, much less resigned."
Source: Catholic News Service