World Day for the Poor

On Sunday the Catholic Church throughout the world marks the sixth World Day of the Poor. This annual commemoration was instituted by Pope Francis and is intended to act as reminder to all Catholics of their duty to care for those less fortunate than themselves.

This is an abridged version of the Holy Father’s Message that appeared in The Flourish, the Official Journal of the Archdiocese of Glasgow.

Letter of Pope Francis for World Day of the Poor

Several months ago, the world was emerging from the tempest of the pandemic, showing signs of an economic recovery that could benefit millions of people reduced to poverty by the loss of their jobs.

A patch of blue sky was opening that, without detracting from our sorrow at the loss of our dear ones, promised to bring us back to direct interpersonal relations and to socialising with one another once more without further prohibitions or restrictions.

Now, however, a new catastrophe has appeared on the horizon, destined to impose on our world a very different scenario.

The war in Ukraine has now been added to the regional wars that for years have taken a heavy toll of death and destruction.

Conflict

Yet here the situation is even more complex due to the direct intervention of a “superpower” aimed at imposing its own will in
violation of the principle of the self determination of peoples.

In this situation of great conflict, we are celebrating the Sixth World Day of the Poor. During his visit to Jerusalem, Paul met with Peter, James and John, who had urged him not to forget the poor.The community of Jerusalem was experiencing great hardship due to a food shortage in the country.

The Apostle immediately set about organizing a great collection to aid the poverty-stricken. The Christians of Corinth were very understanding and supportive. At Paul’s request, on every first day of the week they collected what they were able to save and all proved very generous.

From that time on, every Sunday, during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, we have done the same thing, pooling our offerings so that
the community can provide for the needs of the poor.

It is something that Christians have always done with joy and a sense of responsibility, to ensure that none of our brothers or sisters will lack the necessities of life.

Faith into Practice

Where the poor are concerned, it is not talk that matters; what matters is rolling up our sleeves and putting our faith into practice
through a direct involvement, one that cannot be delegated.

At times, however, a kind of laxity can creep in and lead to inconsistent behaviour, including indifference about the poor. It also happens that
some Christians, out of excessive attachment to money, remain mired in a poor use of their goods and wealth.

These situations reveal a weak faith and feeble, short-sighted hope. We know that the issue is not money itself, for money is part of our
daily life as individuals and our relationships in society.

Rather, what we need to consider is the value that we put on money: it cannot become our absolute and chief purpose in life.

Attachment to money prevents us from seeing everyday life with realism; it clouds our gaze and blinds us to the needs of others. Nothing worse could happen to a Christian and to a community than to be dazzled by the idol of wealth, which ends up chaining us to an ephemeral and bankrupt vision of life.

Social Justice

None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice. When the only law is the bottom line of profit at the end of the day, nothing holds us back from seeing others simply as objects to be exploited; other people are merely a means to an end.

There no longer exist such things as a just salary or just working hours, and new forms of slavery emerge and entrap persons who lack alternatives and are forced to accept this toxic injustice simply to eke out a living.

We can easily discern the lack of satisfaction that many people feel because they sense that something important is missing from their lives, with the result that they wander off aimlessly in search of it.

In their desire to find something that can bring them satisfaction, they need someone to guide them towards the insignificant, the vulnerable and the poor, so that they can finally see what they themselves lack.

True love

Encountering the poor enables us to put an end to many of our anxieties and empty fears, and to arrive at what truly matters in life, the treasure that no one can steal from us: true and gratuitous love. The poor, before being the object of our almsgiving, are people, who can help set us free from the snares of anxiety and superficiality.

On 15 May last, I canonized Brother Charles de Foucauld, a man born rich, who gave up everything to follow Jesus … We would do well to meditate on these words of his: “Let us not despise the poor, the little ones, the workers; not only are they our brothers and sisters in God, they are also those who most perfectly imitate Jesus in his outward life.

They perfectly represent Jesus, the Worker of Nazareth. They are the firstborn among the elect, the first to be called to the Saviour’s crib. They were the regular company of Jesus, from his birth until his death…”

May this 2022 World Day of the Poor enable us to make a personal and communal examination of conscience and to ask ourselves whether the poverty of Jesus Christ is our faithful companion in life.

FRANCIS

WATCH: Explore Pope Francis' encyclical 'The Joy of Love'

Father Nick Welsh and Sister Anna Marie have begun a three week tour of Pope Francis' encyclical Amoris Laetitia ("The Joy of Love"). Watch the first two sessions on YouTube or below.

The final lunchtime talk is at 1:30pm on Monday 24 January on Zoom. Register now at bit.ly/AmorisTalks

The talks coincide with the “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year 2021-2022. Amoris Laetitia is an apostolic exhortation written by the Holy Father about Love in the family. Read it here.

Holy Father introduces limits on celebration of Tridentine Mass

After consulting the bishops throughout the world, Pope Francis has decided to modify the norms regulating the use of the 1962 missal granted 14 years ago by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, as the “extraordinary form of the Roman Rite”, writes the Vatican News.

The Pope has published the Motu proprio Traditionis custodes, dated 16 July 2021, regarding the use of the Roman liturgy prior to 1970.

It is accompanied by a letter in which he explains the reasons behind his decision. Here are the main points.

In the letter accompanying the document, Pope Francis explains that the established concessions granted by his predecessors for the use of the 1692 Roman Missal were above all “motivated by the desire to foster the healing of the schism with the movement of Mons. Lefebvre”.

The request directed to the Bishops to generously welcome the “just aspirations” of the members of the faithful who request the use of this Missal was also motivated by “the ecclesial intention of restoring the unity of the Church”.

Pope Francis observes that, “many in the Church came to regard this faculty as an opportunity to adopt freely the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and use it in a manner parallel to the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Paul VI”.

The Pope recalls that Pope Benedict XVI’s decision promulgated with the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum (2007) was sustained by the “confidence that such a provision would not place in doubt one of the key measures of Vatican Council II or minimize in this way its authority”.

Fourteen years ago, Pope Benedict declared “unfounded the fear of division in parish communities, because ‘the two forms of the use of the Roman Rite would enrich one another’”.

However, the responses to the recent questionnaire circulated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith among the Bishops, Pope Francis writes, “reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me, and persuades me of the need to intervene”.

Benedict’s desire to ensure unity, Pope Francis says, has “often been seriously disregarded”, and the concessions offered with largesse have instead been “exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division”.

The Pope said he is “saddened by abuses in the celebration of the liturgy on all sides”.

In addition, he deplores the fact that the “instrumental use of Missale Romanum of 1962 is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church’ ”.

To doubt the Council, Pope Francis explains, “is to doubt the intentions of those very Fathers who exercised their collegial power in a solemn manner cum Petro et sub Petro in an ecumenical council, and, in the final analysis, to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church”.

This is the final reason Pope Francis gives for his decision to modify the past concessions:

“Ever more plain in the words and attitudes of many is the close connection between the choice of celebrations according to the liturgical books prior to Vatican Council II and the rejection of the Church and her institutions in the name of what is called the “true Church.” One is dealing here with comportment that contradicts communion and nurtures the divisive tendency — ‘I belong to Paul; I belong instead to Apollo; I belong to Cephas; I belong to Christ’ — against which the Apostle Paul so vigorously reacted (1 Cor 1:12-13). In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors”.

NB This decree of the Holy Father does not affect the celebration of the post-Vatican II Mass of St Paul VI in Latin or the use of the Latin language in liturgical music in a Mass celebrated in English.

To read the unabridged Vatican News article, please click here.

LIVE: a special blessing from Pope Francis at 5pm

Pope Francis will pray before an empty square at St Peter's Basilica today to give a special blessing in response to the coranvirus outbreak.

It takes place today at 5pm (6pm Rome) and those who participate by watching or listening live will receive a plenary indulgence.

Watch it online at the Vatican's YouTube channel:

The #PrayTogether initiative will include the Word of God, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and an Urbi et Orbi blessing. The blessing “to the City [of Rome] and to the World” is normally only given on Christmas and Easter.

Pope Francis said: "We will listen to the Word of God, we will raise our supplication, we will adore the Blessed Sacrament, at the end I will impart the Urbi et orbi Blessing, and you will have the possibility of receiving a plenary indulgence.

"We want to respond to the virus pandemic with the universality of prayer."

The Urbi et orbi blessing is subject to the conditions foreseen by the recent Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary. To find out more about a plenary indulgence, click here.

 

EVENT: The fight for Europe's migration policy

A recent cover of the Catholic Herald depicted Pope Francis and controversial right wing Italian politician Matteo Salvini fighting over Italy.

The article summary stated that both men were competing 'for the hearts and minds' of voters.

Much of this has been over migration, a debate that stretches across Europe and throws up many questions, chief for Catholics being 'What's the Christian response?'

John Dalhuisen (main picture), a leading thinker on human rights and migration policy, hopes to unpack the main migration themes at an event hosted by the Archdiocese on Thursday night, to help you get a clearer picture of a complex issue facing politicians.

He said: "There must be space for some element of utilitarian thinking. You have to factor in the maximum possible good to the most people based on a set of political and practical predictions of what will happen. You can’t just apply fundamental moral norms if the application of those norms have predictably adverse outcomes.

"You need to work out not the best imaginable policy consistent with moral preferences, but the best possible set of policies that I can actually be acquired."

John has previously been the Europe Director at Amnesty International and Special Adviser to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

He added: "There is an ideological battle between two protagonists that are central to this debate – Matteo Salvini and Pope Francis.

"The most popular politician among church-going Catholic Italians is Salvini. That is something the church needs to reflect on. It’s not obvious that Francis’ message on migration and how he is communicating it, is winning.

"It’s not just him, it’s the whole penumbra of more politically engaged Catholic organisations that are also advocating positions that are very easily dismissed by politicians."

Closed or Open Doors? The Fight for Europe's Migration Policy, with John Dalhuisen, is on at 7pm at the Gillis Centre, 100 Strathearn Road, Edinburgh this Thursday (20th Feb). Register now on Eventbrite (click here). Entry by donation.

This event is sponsored by the Caritas, Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh. Follow John Dalhuisen on Twitter: @DalhuisenJJ