Christians must offer real hope to the most vulnerable, pope says

The option for those who are least, those whom society discards, is a priority that Christ’s followers are called to pursue, Pope Francis has said.

“We can never elude the urgent appeal that Scripture makes on behalf of the poor,” the pope said in a message for the Third World Day of the Poor.

“The situation of the poor obliges us not to keep our distance from the body of the Lord, who suffers in them,” Pope Francis said in the message dated June 13, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of the poor.

“We are called to touch his flesh and to be personally committed in offering a service that is an authentic form of evangelization. “Commitment to the promotion of the poor, including their social promotion, is not foreign to the proclamation of the Gospel. On the contrary, it manifests the realism of Christian faith and its historical validity,” the pope said.

The World Day of the Poor — to be marked each year on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time — will be celebrated this year on Nov. 17 and will focus on a verse from Psalm 9: “The hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

”These words “express a profound truth that faith impresses above all on the hearts of the poor, restoring lost hope in the face of injustice, sufferings and the uncertainties of life,” the pope said.

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