By Vatican News staff writer
The World Day of the Poor this year is scheduled for Sunday, 15 November 2020.
To prepare for the fourth commemoration of this annual event, the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization organized a press conference at the Vatican on Thursday, presenting the initiatives for the World Day.
The speakers at the event included Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and Msgr. Graham Bell, the Under-secretary of the same Pontifical Council.
Pope Francis’ message
Pope Francis established the World Day in his Apostolic Letter, Misericordia et Misera, issued on 20 November 2016 to celebrate the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. On 13 June this year, he issued a message for the observance themed: “Stretch forth your hand to the poor.”
During his speech, Archbishop Fisichella underscored the Pope’s idea that “a hand held out is a sign” – one that speaks of closeness, solidarity and love. He said that especially in these times of the coronavirus, Pope Francis pointed out that the outstretched hands of physicians, administrators, pharmacists, volunteers and priests among others, have “defied contagion and fear in order to offer support and consolation,” because “now is a good time to recover the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world.”
He also added that the Pope’s message can be of inspiration to better understand some of the initiatives that have been taken to offer concrete support and help to families who find themselves in objective difficulty.
Closeness to the poor
The Archbishop highlighted some of the Church’s concrete gestures of closeness to those in need, especially in commemoration of the annual World Day.
He noted for example, that the poor who have access to dormitories, or who want to return to their homeland can be tested with the "cotton swab test" in the clinic under the colonnade of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Also, with the support of generous donors, packages of basic necessities, including food items and face masks, have been made available for distribution to those in need.
The Archbishop added that the World Day of the Poor, though limited in its initiatives, is a day when dioceses around the world express their fraternity with marginalized and disadvantaged people. He also stressed that the Pastoral Aid prepared to assist parishes can be a timely instrument so that the World Day is not limited to charitable initiatives alone but is also supported by “personal and community prayer that can never be lacking in order for our witness to be complete and effective.”
The Pastoral Aid has been translated into English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Polish and it is available for download on the website of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
Keeping our “end” in mind.
Archbishop Fisichella recalled Pope Francis’ words inspired by the book of Sirach: “In everything you do, remember your end.” These, he explained can be understood in two ways: First, that our lives will come to our end sooner or later and keeping that in mind can inspire us to live a life of concern for the poor.
“The ‘end’ of all our actions can only be love… This love is one of sharing, dedication and service, born of the realization that we were first loved and awakened to love,” Archbishop Fisichella said.
It is in this spirit that an outstretched hand can be “enriched by the smile of those who quietly and unassumingly offer to help, inspired only by the joy of living as one of Christ’s disciples.” This also is the spirit that we are invited to live in this fourth World Day of the Poor.
Holy Mass for the World Day of the Poor
On Sunday, Pope Francis will celebrate the Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Rome to mark the fourth World Day of the Poor. The event will be broadcast by Catholic broadcasters connected to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication and it will also be streamed on the Vatican News portal.