World Day of the Poor 2023 is framed today by a truly disturbing world scenario of wars. To my missionary gaze, the relationship between war and the poor appears immediate,” stresses Father Pier Luigi Maccalli on the occasion of the seventh World Day of the Poor to be celebrated on Sunday, November 19.

“The biblical category of the poor,” recalls the priest of the Society for African Missions (SMA) in a reflection collected by Fides Agency, “is identified with the classic triad of orphan, widow and foreigner, and wars always produce orphans, widowed mothers and so many refugees forced to flee to places where they are labeled as foreigners. So many women and children from Ukraine, Russia, Palestine, Israel, Sudan, Ethiopia and so many places forgotten by the media, find themselves today widows and orphans, without a man to hold them, without a father to dry their tears as they sadly walk aimlessly through foreign streets.”

“We, Catholic Christians”, the missionary continues, “are wont to emphasize the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and we judge as blasphemous any act done against churches, statues and places of worship. Violating the body and bloodying the face of human beings and especially the frail and defenseless can be much worse. War is a crime against humanity and I personally dream of the day when it will be abolished by a public declaration just as it was for slavery and colonization.”

This world day“, Father Maccalli adds, “reminds us of the real presence of Christ in the poor victims of so many types of wars. Poor and peace are two cornerstones of the evangelical beatitudes that this day comes to re-cor-d us. Poor people and human peripheries also remind us that making ourselves Samaritans is the essence of the Gospel.”

The motto for this year’s Day is taken from the book of Tobiah: “Do not turn your eyes away from the poor” (Tb 4:7).

For the occasion, Pope Francis will preside over the Eucharistic Celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 a.m.

Until a couple of years ago, Father Maccalli was on mission in Niger, in the village of Bomoanga from where he was kidnapped on the night of Sept. 17-18, 2018, at the hands of a group of jihadist militiamen (see Fides News Agency 9/18/2018). Freed on October 8, 2020 on the heels of World Mission Day (see Fides Agency 9/10/2020), the SMA priest continued his mission bearing his witness of faith and hope. A staunch advocate for peace, the most disadvantaged peoples and the most suffering people, in recent days he met with Pope Francis to whom among other things he submitted a text echoing his words of peace.

(PLM) (Agenzia Fides 17/11/2023)