Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on April 17, 2013. Credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.
Pope Francis encouraged Catholic organizations yesterday to continue to fight against “unacceptable poverty.”
In a message to two Belgian groups released 29 January, the pope said that the coronavirus pandemic had made poverty relief even more difficult.
“The challenges that await you are compounded by the crisis of COVID-19, which is affecting the entire world, but even more terribly the poorest and most neglected. It is, therefore, more important than ever to continue and develop the action undertaken,” he said in the message, dated 8 January.
The first group was founded by Belgium’s bishops in 1961 to raise funds in Lent for the newly independent Congo. It now supports the poor all over the world.
The bishops launched the second organization in 1971 to run an Advent campaign addressing poverty in Belgium, a country with a population of 11 million people that borders France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
According to Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, 14.8% of the country’s population was considered at risk of monetary poverty in 2019 — a figure that is likely to have increased in 2020 due to the pandemic.
“I congratulate your two organizations for their faithfulness in the accomplishment of their mission and I thank from the bottom of my heart all those who commit themselves as volunteers, professionals, or benefactors,” the pope said.
He continued: “I encourage your partners who fight day after day against unacceptable poverty, as well as the donors who support you through financial sharing. We all have the same objective: to build a more just and fraternal world.”
“With all my heart, I extend to you my Apostolic Blessing and my encouragement to tirelessly pursue your commitment on the path of social friendship and fraternity, with the grace of Christ, the Good Samaritan par excellence!”
“And do not forget to pray for me and for the Church everywhere in the world.”