AMERICA - "To look at the poor in the eyes", loving with facts and not words

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Lima (Agenzia Fides) - On November 19, the Universal Church celebrates the First World Day of the Poor, on the theme "We do not love in words but with facts", an initiative born a year ago at the close of the Jubilee of Mercy. As Fides learns, Latin America has enthusiastically welcomed Pope Francis’ initiative and has organized, in each country, a series of activities, both of preparation and of continuous commitment to live together a moment of particular proximity with the most vulnerable.
In Peru, the Bishops' Commission of Social Action (CEAS) published a pastoral brochure to help every local church live this event. "To stand beside the poor and the excluded: Pope Francis asks us for a concrete and radical gesture so that the poor can be 'first' in the life of the whole Church, and indeed be a poor Church for the poor. The Pope hopes that this day is established as a tradition for the evangelization of the contemporary world and to arouse the awareness that the poor are not a problem but a resource to draw from in order to live the essence of the Gospel", reads the message sent to Fides by the Peruvian CEAS.
From Bolivia, Fides received the video message of Archbishop Eugenio Coter, president of the Social Caritas Pastoral of the country's Bishops' Conference. The Bolivian Church also handed out reflection leaflets to celebrate this day with concrete actions by the faithful gathered in all the cities of the country.
The Episcopal Conference of Mexico has released a message by Archbishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel to promote this Day. The Bishop recalls that the invitation of the Holy Father has left many indifferent: "This invitation has been ignored, or has not received the importance it deserves. There are also those who consider it another populist idea of the Pope", reads the text sent to Fides. "It is true that there are many indifferent and selfish people, closed in their individual interest, but there are many others who show their love for the poor, without advertising and without electoral interests", reiterates the Mexican Archbishop, citing examples of Christian commitment in favor of the poor in a nationalized reality hit by some natural calamities that have put to the test the strength and resistance of the Mexican people.
In Argentina, "this is a celebration of Mercy, along with the poorest and those who suffer", said Mgr. Oscar Ojea, Bishop of San Isidro, inviting everyone to celebrate the Day. "To rediscover the value of poverty means committing oneself to justice", says Father Pablo Fuentes, Oblate Missionary, "but before accusing others, it is necessary to look at oneself to see if there is coherence between faith and solidarity", he concludes.
In Costa Rica, the Day of the Poor coincides with the generous response of the Catholic community towards those who lost everything with in the "Nate" storm that devastated the country last month. Caritas Costa Rica has invited to share concrete gestures of solidarity with the people affected, to live this Day "with facts and not words".
From Colombia, Fides received the video message of Archbishop Oscar Urbina Ortega, Archbishop of Villavicencio and President of the Episcopal Conference (CEC), who called "to put into practice the Pope’s words, who was among us in Colombia: "Look at the poor in the eyes and help them". (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 18/11/2017)