Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pope Defends Those Most Affected by Money Crisis

Notes Already Grave Situations Made Worse

By Anita S. Bourdin

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- As the world faces an economic crisis, Benedict XVI is encouraging that particular attention be paid to society's weakest families and individuals.

The Pope stressed this need in a message sent on his behalf by his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, for the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty, celebrated each Oct. 17. The papal message was sent to Jean Tonglet, delegate for Italy of the ATD Fourth World movement.

The Holy Father expressed his hope that "in the difficult international economic context of today, particular attention is given to the people and families who are most underprivileged and the weakest of society."

He also spoke out on behalf of those for whom life is more difficult due to the crisis: "The present situation aggravates the already worrying and sometimes tragic conditions of life for numerous people, whose human dignity is in this way gravely compromised."

The Pontiff concluded asking God to "support all those people who are victims of extreme poverty" and bless "the efforts of those who, with their generous commitment, contribute to the building up of a more just and fraternal world, which rejects the misfortune of extreme poverty."

The world day was begun on Oct. 17, 1987, by Father Joseph Wresinski (1917-1988), founder of the ATD Fourth World movement. On this day he placed a commemorative stone in the Trocadero Plaza (renamed the Plaza of Human Rights and Liberties) in Paris "for the victims of poverty."

The initiative was taken up by the United Nations in 1992.

One of the objectives of the world day is to "give a voice to the poor, listen to what they have to say, not just regarding poverty and how to fight it, but also about peace, justice, the future of the world and societies," Tonglet told ZENIT. "This attitude of listening is something that is promoted on Oct. 17 so that it is lived afterward day after day."

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