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Words of Pope Francis on Poverty

These words of Pope Francis can help us to reflect more deeply on how our experience of God’s love can open our hearts to solidarity with our neighbors, and move us to action. As you read these quotes, ask for the Holy Spirit to help you discern how you might be called to love-inspired action to address poverty.

Reflections on Poverty

“The times talk to us of so much poverty in the world and this is a scandal. Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry.” (Pope Francis, Meeting with Students of Jesuit Schools—Q & A, 6/7/13)

“To love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person the face of the Lord to be served, to serve him concretely. And you are, dear brothers and sisters, the face of Jesus.”   (Pope Francis, Address during Visit at the Homeless Shelter “Dono Di Maria,” 5/21/13)

“A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.”  (Pope Francis, Address to the Food and Agricultural Organization, 6/20/13)

“Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor.”  (Pope Francis, Address to the Archbishop of Canterbury, 6/14/13)

“Poverty calls us to sow hope. . . . Poverty is the flesh of the poor Jesus, in that child who is hungry, in the one who is sick, in those unjust social structures.”   (Pope Francis, Meeting with Students of Jesuit Schools—Q & A, 6/7/13)

“In the Gospel, we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, that speaks of a man assaulted by robbers and left half dead at the side of the road. People pass by him and look at him. But they do not stop, they just continue on their journey, indifferent to him: it is none of their business! How often we say: it’s not my problem!  How often we turn the other way and pretend not to see! Only a Samaritan, a stranger, sees him, stops, lifts him up, takes him by the hand, and cares for him (cf. Lk 10:29-35). Dear friends, I believe that here, in this hospital, the parable of the Good Samaritan is made tangible. Here there is no indifference, but concern. There is no apathy, but love.”  (Pope Francis, Address at St. Francis of Assisi of the Providence of God Hospital, 7/24/13)

“I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” (Pope Francis, Homily at Inauguration, 3/19/13)

“While encouraging the development of a better world, we cannot remain silent about the scandal of poverty in its various forms. Violence, exploitation, discrimination, marginalization, restrictive approaches to fundamental freedoms, whether of individuals or of groups: these are some of the chief elements of poverty which need to be overcome. Often these are precisely the elements which mark migratory movements, thus linking migration to poverty.” (Pope Francis, Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 8/5/13)

“We are not simply talking about ensuring nourishment or a ‘dignified sustenance’ for all people, but also their ‘general temporal welfare and prosperity’.[159] This means education, access to health care, and above all employment, for it is through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labor that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives. A just wage enables them to have adequate access to all the other goods which are destined for our common use. (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 11/24/13, no. 192)

“In today’s world, voices are being raised which we cannot ignore and which implore our Churches to live deeply our identity as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first of these voices is that of the poor. In the world, there are too many women and men who suffer from severe malnutrition, growing unemployment, the rising numbers of unemployed youth, and from increasing social exclusion. These can give rise to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists. We cannot remain indifferent before the cries of our brothers and sisters. These ask of us not only material assistance – needed in so many circumstances – but above all, our help to defend their dignity as human persons, so that they can find the spiritual energy to become once again protagonists in their own lives. They ask us to fight, in the light of the Gospel, the structural causes of poverty: inequality, the shortage of dignified work and housing, and the denial of their rights as members of society and as workers. As Christians we are called together to eliminate that globalization of indifference which today seems to reign supreme, while building a new civilization of love and solidarity.” (Pope Francis, Address at Patriarchal Church of St. George, Istanbul, 11/30/14)

“Discussions are needed in which all those directly or indirectly affected (farmers, consumers, civil authorities, scientists, seed producers, people living near fumigated fields, and others) can make known their problems and concerns, and have access to adequate and reliable information in order to make decisions for the common good, present and future.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, 5/24/15, no. 135)

“The coexistence of wealth and poverty is a scandal, it is a disgrace for humanity.” (Pope Francis, General Audience, 12/2/15)

“Let us open our eyes to our neighbor, especially to our brothers and sisters who are forgotten and excluded, to the “Lazarus” at our door. That is where the Church’s magnifying glass is pointed…. By right but also by evangelical duty, for it is our responsibility to care for the true riches which are the poor.” (Pope Francis, Homily for Jubilee for Socially Excluded People, 11/13/16)

“Combat poverty and at the same time learn from the poor.” (Pope Francis, Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Members of the Representative Council and Personnel of Caritas Internationalis, 11/17/16)

“The principal ethical dilemma of this capitalism is the creation of discarded people, then trying to hide them or make sure they are no longer seen. A serious form of poverty in a civilization is when it is no longer able to see its poor, who are first discarded and then hidden. The economy of communion, if it wants to be faithful to its charism, must not only care for the victims, but build a system where there are ever fewer victims, where, possibly, there may no longer be any.” (Pope Francis, Address to Participants in the Meeting of the Economy of Communion, 2/4/17)