Virtual Event in anticipation of the
Fourth World Day of the Poor (November 15)
New York, November 12, 2020
“Stretch forth your hands to the poor.”
These words by Sirach are echoed by Pope Francis in the theme chosen for the Fourth World Day of the Poor, which will take place this Sunday, November 15.
Pope Francis established this commemoration in 2017 to spur Christian communities to imitate Jesus’ preferential love for the poor and to encourage people of all faiths and no faith to reject a culture of waste and embrace one of solidarity, fraternity and concrete care, stretching forth their hands to those in need.
All of us have seen, at least in photographs, Michelangelo’s famous Creation of Adam on the vault of the Sistine Chapel. God stretches forth his hand to impart to Adam the gift of life.
We imitate that life-giving, loving generosity of God every time we stretch our hands toward those in need who are created in the image of God and in the image of Adam and Eve.
Stretching forth our hands begins not with our arms but with our eyes and our heart.
We must first look around and see the many people who are hurting.
Then our hearts must be moved with compassion for those who are suffering.
In his recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis challenged Christians and all people of good will to relate to those in need like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ famous parable: to cross the road and draw near, to allow ourselves to be inconvenienced, and to take personal responsibility for helping them get back on their feet.
Many, Pope Francis says, walk by the other side of the road, not noticing others’ pain, not being moved enough to act.
Pope Francis is calling us all, rather, to behave as brothers and sisters, literally Fratelli Tutti.
Not to keep our hands in our pockets.
Not to wash our hands of the situation of others.
But to extend both hands to pick others up.
During this pandemic, when normal human interactions like handshakes have been prudently restricted, we have become even more grateful for the outstretched hands of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, clergy, volunteers and neighbors.
Pope Francis is summoning all of us to imitate that concern, courage and generosity.
He’s asking us to lift up our hands in prayer.
And he is calling us to join our hands and work together.
Today’s event is to help us to do just that.
Thank you for your desire to join this worldwide mobilization of Good Samaritans.
May God bless you all.
To watch the 51 minute event, please click here.
To read Pope Francis' message for the Fourth World Day of the Poor, please click here.
The event was sponsored by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Sovereign Order of Malta to the United Nations and America Media. Co-sponsors include the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, the Mission of the Republic of Lithuania to the United Nations, Catholic Charities USA, Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Ireland to the United Nations, and the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontífice USA (CAPP-USA).
Besides Archbishop Caccia, speakers included H.E. Paul Beresford-Hill, Ambassador of the Order of Malta to the UN; H.E. Audra Plepytė, Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to the UN; and H.E. Geraldine Byrne Nason, Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to the UN; and H.E. Dominique Prince de La Rochefoucauld–Montbel, Grand Hospitaller of the Sovereign Order of Malta.
There was also a panel moderated by Fr. Matthew F. Malone, S.J., president & editor in chief of America Media, involving a conversation about Pope Francis' letter for the 2020 World Day of the Poor. The panelists were Nicholas D. Kristof of the The New York Times; Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA; and H.E. Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations for Policy Coordination and Interagency Affairs.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, concluded the event with a benediction.