Pope’s September prayer intention: ‘For people living on the margins’

Pope Francis releases his prayer intention for the month of September, and invites everyone to pray and assist people who live on the margins of society.

By Devin Watkins

“Let us pray for those people on the margins of society in subhuman living conditions, that they may not be neglected by institutions and never be cast out.”

Pope Francis launched that invitation on Tuesday as he released his prayer intention for September 2023, which is for “people living on the margins”.

‘Stiff necks, indifferent hearts’

In The Pope Video for September, produced by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, he reflected on the indifference endured by many people who are marginalized.

“A homeless person who dies on the street will never appear among the top stories of search engines or newscasts,” he lamented, wondering how our societies could have reached such a level of indifference.

Pope Francis attributed this indifference to a “throwaway culture in which millions of men and women are worth nothing compared to economic goods”.

He said our “necks are going to get stiff from looking the other way so we don’t have to see this situation.”

Culture of welcoming

The Pope then urged everyone to pay attention to people who face marginalization, even if it results from “poverty, addictions, mental illness, or disability.”

“Let’s focus on accepting them, on welcoming all the people who need it,” he said.

In response to such indifference, he held up a “culture of welcoming, of providing shelter, of giving a home, of offering love, of giving human warmth.”

And Pope Francis concluded by inviting every Christian to pray for those people “on the margins of society living in subhuman living conditions.”

Widespread poverty and hardship

A press release accompanying his prayer intention noted that The Pope Video for September contains images of homeless people, street children washing car windshields, and people with various disabilities.

According to the UN, over 10 percent of the global population, or 700 million people, live in extreme poverty. Another 1.6 billion people dwell in inadequate living conditions, even in developed nations.

“Similarly, reports from the World Health Organization reveal that one of every eight persons lives with a ‘mental disorder,’ and that 16% of the world’s population lives with a ‘serious disability’,” according to the press release.

Hearts of flesh

Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, echoed the Pope’s prayer intention, inviting us to have hearts of flesh and not of stone.

“Welcoming is more than helping: it means putting the other person at our level, rediscovering a sister or a brother we have lost,” said Cardinal Czerny. “We are transformed into one Body through prayer.”

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29 August 2023, 16:00