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We Need to Put the Poor at The Centre of Our Actions, Prayers: Caritas Africa

Logo of Caritas Africa. Credit: Caritas Africa

The leadership of Caritas Africa has called on members of the organization across the continent to put poor people at the center of their attention not only through actions but also prayers. 

The Regional Coordinator of Caritas Africa who was speaking on the sidelines of the celebration of the World Day of the Poor said the concern for the underprivileged members of the society should be reflected from the grassroots to global levels.

“Today is a special day for Caritas. It is an occasion for us to put the poor at the centre of our activities, at the centre of the action of Caritas everywhere we are from the community level to the global level, going to the parish, the zonal and the regional level,” Albert Mashika said Sunday, November 14.

Mr. Mashika further said members “need to put the poor at the centre of our actions, our prayers.”

The Caritas Official who was speaking at the second anniversary of Caritas South Africa Day also called on the youth across the continent to not only pray but also act in solidarity with poor members of the society.

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“All the youth (should) get in prayer and reflection but these prayers and reflections should be turned into concrete actions to express the proximity to the poor,” the Caritas official based in Lomé, Togo, said. 

For Mr. Mashika, it is important for the youth to come to the aid of the poor because “they have a role to play in building a fair world where there is peace, justice and where we are taking care of each other.”

Celebrated on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time each liturgical year, the World Day of the Poor seeks to reflect on how poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel.

The celebration was initiated by Pope Francis in November 2016 while celebrating the end of the of Year of Mercy.

In a separate message shared with ACI Africa on the day of the celebration held at Maria Regina Catholic Church in Centurion in South Africa’s Archdiocese of Pretoria, Fr. McDonald Nah reflected on the importance of the day to the universal Church.

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“Today is the World Day of the poor and as a Church it is our vocation to be charitable, to reach out and we are privileged to have joined the parishioners of Maria Regina Catholic Church,” Fr. Nah said.

The Catholic Priest further said, “We are praying for all those who are suffering around the world that through others, they may receive the grace and peace of Christ.”

Caritas Africa Policy and Advocacy Officer, Lucy Esipila, also highlighted the importance of members of the humanitarian and development arm of the Catholic Bishops to speak openly about the economic and tax justice in the interest of the poor.

“It is important for us to have the spaces for communion within the Africa region and to see how Christians celebrate the World Day of the Poor,” Ms. Esipila said. 

The Nairobi-based Caritas Africa official added, “(We need to) see how we can change the situation around us by speaking about economic and tax justice, and to bridge the economic gaps that perpetuate poverty in Africa.” 

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In his message on the November 14 celebration, Pope Francis called on the people of God to be aware of the needs of the  poor, “which are always changing, as are their living conditions.” 

“It is my hope that the celebration of the World Day of the Poor, now in its fifth year, will grow in our local Churches and inspire a movement of evangelization that meets the poor personally wherever they may be. It is important to understand how they feel, what they are experiencing and their hearts desire,” Pope Francis said. 

The Holy Father also urged the people of God to reach out to the underprivileged members of the society wherever they are. 

“We cannot wait for the poor to knock on our door; we need urgently to reach them in their homes, in hospitals and nursing homes, on the streets and in the dark corners where they sometimes hide, in shelters and reception centres,” Pope Francis said.