One of the initiatives marking the 6th World Day of the Poor is the reopening of a mobile health clinic in St. Peter’s Square offering free screenings and care to those in need. Bishop Fisichella speaks of the Church’s witness to serving the poor in an increasingly unequal world.
By Linda Bordoni
On Sunday, November 13, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with the poor, marking the VI World Day of the Poor which was instituted by the Pope at the close of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy 2016.
Celebrated annually on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, its goal is to encourage Christians to “go out” to the peripheries where so many people are struggling with economic and existential problems and to offer service as “a sign of love, the love manifested by Jesus himself.
The Vatican has organized a series of initiatives promoted by the Dicastery for Evangelization to celebrate the World Day. They include the lunch served to the poor of Rome in the Paul VI Hall after Sunday Mass as well as a number of long-term initiatives aimed at supporting families and individuals in difficulty.
The poor evangelize us
As Bishop Rino Fisichella of the Dicastery for Evangelization explained at the Thursday inauguration of a mobile health clinic in St. Peter’s Square, at the heart of all the initiatives is Pope Francis’ reminder that the poor are not only the closest to the Lord, they are agents of evangelization.
“The poor allow all of us, believers and non-believers, to understand that the essence of the Gospel is to be close, to be close, to be at the service of all the weak in the world of today,” he said. .
Global poverty on the rise
The inauguration of the health clinic in St. Peter’s Square to offer free health examinations and medical care, including general examinations, electrocardiograms, blood tests, flu shots, COVID-19 tests and testing for HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis, to those who otherwise would not have access to them, comes after two years of pandemic and runaway inflation caused by the war in Ukraine and the global energy crisis. This service, recognizes Bishop Fisichella, is all the more urgent at a time when the number of poor is increasing tenfold.
“This is a special time for all people in the world, not just in this country,” but around the world, the Archbishop said.
We must give back what they have lost because of financial choices, Bishop Fisichella continued, which have resulted in the enrichment of a small majority of people and the impoverishment of many others.
health, food, money
The Vatican is also helping struggling families by donating boxes of food to parishes around Rome to distribute to needy families and paying skyrocketing bills.
Fisichella notes that it is not just the homeless who need help, but more and more families who cannot reach the end of the month because they are poor.
In Italy alone, he says, “we have more than five million poor people – that can give you an idea of what can happen in the world”, because Italy is one of the six richest nations .
This should make us reflect, he added, on what this means for parts of Asia, Latin America, Africa. It should trigger a wave of solidarity among all nations.
Poverty challenges us
The fact that the mobile clinic was installed in a square visited by millions of pilgrims and tourists could be seen as a kind of “provocation” and a challenge to prevent poverty from going unnoticed.
“It is a challenge,” Bishop Fisichella acknowledged, “It is a challenge because millions of people every day and every week of the year are present in St. Peter’s Squares.”
They come “to contemplate the beauty of this place, but they can also become sensitive to understand the presence of the poor.