Many would be inclined to reply “yes”, considering the electoral campaign promises, term after term, and the insufficient income of thousands of people in the Montreal metropolitan area that fail to cover their basic needs.
Pope Francis says, however, in his World Day message title, on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019: The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever. He rests upon the written word of God and mobilizes the Church to adopt “the option for those who are least, those whom society discards … is a priority that Christ’s followers are called to pursue, so as not to impugn the Church’s credibility but to give real hope to many of our vulnerable brothers and sisters.” (The hope …, §7).
How can this day be a moment of strong solidarity?
Each human being is important and infinitely loved by God. Isn’t seeing people through the eyes of the heart, the antidote to indifference and throwaway culture, something Pope Francis denounces? A sign of peace, in the liturgy, reminds us at each Eucharist: may we live this Sunday with intensity!
Knowing where we come from helps in knowing where we are going to: until February 9, 2020, the Écomusée du fier monde hosts the exhibition Pushing Back at Fate: Poverty, Families and Institutions, which recounts the period extending from the turn of the 19th century to the thirties and borrows extensively from the archives of several religious communities. To see and meditate on!
The government of Quebec, through the Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion (CEPE) presents yearly data. The 2018 Report stated that poverty remains a major risk factor in social exclusion, and that exclusion acts as an obstacle to remove poverty. This vicious circle touches particularly those who live alone. According to the City of Montreal, one can rejoice in the fact that between 2005 and 2015, the number of poor has shrunk from 413,530 to 339,685, an 18% reduction in 10 years (La Presse). Nevertheless, one person in five is poor in Montreal.
As our Archbishop suggests we listen prayerfully this year to the realities of our communities (see 2019 Launch), the Social Action Ministry Office joins the Collectif pour un Québec sans pauvreté to offer an approach: [R]assemblons un Québec riche de tout son monde. The goal is to gather locally at least 10 people, mostly individuals living in poverty, for a three-hour workshop at least. Two themes are discussed simultaneously: people living in poverty who experience different forms of social exclusion and what it means not to live in poverty. For information, please contact the Social Action Ministry Office: email@example.com; 514 925-4300, 208.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops released recently a statement called Poverty in Canada: Ensuring Safe, Secure and Affordable Housing. Let’s take the time, wherever we stand, to read this message and discern the call of God in it. The information from the Frapru (Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain) files, and from organizations and local issue tables can help conduct a more complete analysis.
Through getting involved:
Let’s fight prejudices! Social exclusion comprises small gestures, words, attitudes: let’s detect them and replace them by goodness, truthfulness and justice. The movement ATD Fourth World suggests many ways to achieve this goal.
Let’s get involved! Société de Saint-Vincent de Paul (SSVP) suggests some avenues on its Canadian website Société de Saint-Vincent de Paul. The SSVP of Montreal can count on more than 1000 volunteers in Montreal, Laval and the MRC of l’Assomption (which constitutes the Diocese of Montreal’s territory). One can get involved in many ways, one of which being relatively unknown: the creation of social justice committees. During the World Day of the Poor, or in the weeks to follow, the SSVP will reach out for the Grande Guignolée des médias, as a partner.
Organizations fighting against poverty and exclusion also suggest various actions. Discover those in your neighbourhood…
Lastly, since poverty does not limit itself to our borders, Development and Peace suggests signing a Solidarity Letter with threatened Amazon communities and getting involved in a For our common home project concretely.
For more information or an interview, please contact:
Director, Social Action Ministry Office
Catholic Church of Montreal
514 925-4300, ext. 312