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Background: World Day of the Poor

November 13, 2021

On November 14, the Sunday before the Solemnity of Christ the King, the Church commemorates the 5th World Day of the Poor. The theme of the Pope’s message for the day, released on the memorial of St. Anthony of Padua (June 13), is “The poor you will always have with you” (Mark 14:7).

The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization recently announced the Vatican’s initiatives surrounding the day, including a day of prayer and witness in Assisi on November 12 (CWN coverage).

In his 2016 apostolic letter Misericordia et misera, issued at the conclusion of the extraordinary jubilee of mercy, Pope Francis announced the institution of the World Day of the Poor:

During the “Jubilee for Socially Excluded People,” as the Holy Doors of Mercy were being closed in all the cathedrals and shrines of the world, I had the idea that, as yet another tangible sign of this Extraordinary Holy Year, the entire Church might celebrate, on the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, the World Day of the Poor.

This would be the worthiest way to prepare for the celebration of the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, who identified with the little ones and the poor and who will judge us on our works of mercy (cf. Mt 25:31-46). It would be a day to help communities and each of the baptized to reflect on how poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel and that, as long as Lazarus lies at the door of our homes (cf. Lk 16:19-21), there can be no justice or social peace. This Day will also represent a genuine form of new evangelization (cf. Mt 11:5) which can renew the face of the Church as she perseveres in her perennial activity of pastoral conversion and witness to mercy.


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