“I ask your forgiveness on behalf of all the Christians who have hurt, ignored and humiliated you”, because “every man, every woman is the temple of God”. Especially you, “you are the temple of God, you are the treasure of the Church”. Your place is thus not at the entrance of churches, but rather in the heart of the Church. Pope Francis addressed these powerful words to the Fratello association in a video message in Spanish, released on the association’s Facebook page on Sunday afternoon, 14 November, World Day of the Poor.
“Know that you are God’s favourites. There are hidden saints among you”, the Pontiff assured the thousands of poor people around the world who were listening online at the conclusion of World Day of the Poor, whose events began on Friday with the Pope’s visit to Assisi. Francis recalled the many Brothers who “go through difficult, painful, sometimes unbearable situations”, suffering “in prison, in shanty towns, in a hospital bed, in the poorest neighbourhoods, abandoned, isolated” or in the midst of a war they did not seek, but was imposed on them. People, he pointed out disheartened, who have nothing left, who do not know if they will eat tonight or where they will sleep, while others “who seemingly have everything”, suffer from “loneliness, anguish, depression, addiction”.
But it is precisely these women and men that Christ puts at the centre of the Gospel, dedicating the first Beatitude to them. And although “sometimes the word ‘poor’” may cause scandal, “I want to shout to the world that the Church has the Good News”, the Bishop of Rome said: Jesus needs the poor to save the world by “continually asking us to be poor”, to “become poor in our hearts”, with the “radical invitation to put aside what we have, what we think we possess, our sin, to let God come and fill us with his love”.