Bishop Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick, has written a letter to the people of the diocese of Limerick ahead of this Sunday’s World Day of the Poor. In his letter, which was read at Masses on Sunday 12 November, Bishop Leahy said that with homelessness at an unprecedented state of crisis today in Ireland, it is almost unjust and unchristian to claim economic success.
This will be the first World Day of the Poor, and it was announced by Pope Francis in his closing letter for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Pope Francis declared the day would be celebrated annually on the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, a week before the Solemnity of Christ the King, as ‘yet another tangible sign of this Extraordinary Holy Year.’
Announcing the Day, Pope Francis wrote, ‘This would be the worthiest way to prepare for the celebration of the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, who identified with the little ones and the poor and who will judge us on our works of mercy.’
In his letter for Sunday, Bishop Leahy wrote, ‘Throughout the centuries we have great examples of outreach to the poor. The most outstanding example is that of Francis of Assisi, followed by many other holy men and women over the centuries. In Ireland we can think of great women such as Catherine McAuley and Nano Nagle.
‘Today the call to hear the cry of the poor reaches us. In our diocese we are blessed to have the Limerick Social Services Council that responds in many ways. There are many other initiatives that reach out to the homeless, refugees, people in situations of marginalisation.’
He continued, ‘But none of us can leave it to be outsourced to others to do. Each of us has to do our part. Today many of us live a privileged life in the material sense compared to generations gone by, needing pretty much nothing. Yet there are people in our towns, in our villages for whom the need is very great.
‘Homelessness has become a crisis in Irish society and is that way now for a number of years. But somehow, week in week out that crisis deepens and yet we hear at the same time boasts of how our economy is growing.
‘There’s a huge disparity here and it needs to be dealt with. It is almost unjust and unChristian for us as a nation to be aspiring to become one of the great economic success stories of Europe while at the same time we have a hidden story, in many cases, of new forms of poverty and homelessness.’
‘This must be addressed and we pray that we will do our part to help our political leaders to address the various scenarios of neglect that our country still suffers,’ the Bishop of Limerick said.