– Tej Francis
(CNA) The suffering of the poor cannot be ignored during the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis said Thursday in his televised morning homily.
“Worried about my things, we forget the hungry children,” Pope Francis said March 12 in Casa Santa Marta.
After the World Health Organization declared the global COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte introduced further restrictions forcing all non-essential businesses, restaurants, and cafes in the country to close.
Pope Francis in his morning homily March 12 put these limitations in perspective:
“Maybe we today, here in Rome, are worried because ‘it seems that the shops are closed, I have to go buy that, and it seems that I cannot go for a walk every day, and it seems this …’”
“We forget those poor people who are on the borders of countries, looking for freedom, these forced migrants who flee from hunger and war to only find a wall, a wall made of iron, a wall of barbed wire, but a wall that does not let them pass,” Pope Francis said in Casa Santa Marta.
The pope said that there is an abundance of information in our newspapers about the suffering of children who are hungry and who do not have necessary medical or educational resources, yet people remain indifferent.
He called it “the drama of information that does not go to the heart” in which “the heart is detached from the mind.”
Pope Francis compared this indifference to the Gospel parable of Lazarus and the rich man. He said the rich man knew Lazarus’ name, but ignored his needs creating an “abyss” between them both in life and in death.
He noted that Christ calls the poor man in the parable by name, but describes the rich man only with adjectives.
“This is what selfishness does in us: it makes us lose our real identity,” he said. “We have fallen into the culture of adjectives where your value is what you have, what you can do.”
“Today we ask the Lord for the grace not to fall into indifference, the grace that all the information about human suffering we have, will go down into the heart and move us to do something for others,” Pope Francis said.
More than 10,000 people in Italy are currently being treated for COVID-19, the Italian Ministry of Health reported March 11.
In less than three weeks, 827 Italians who contracted the coronavirus have died. The growing rate of infection led the Italian government to implement strict quarantine measures throughout the country.
The nationwide quarantine in Italy restricts movement around the country and between regions, and group gatherings outside of the family are forbidden.
People are encouraged to stay home, but may move around the city for work, to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, or for medical care. In public, people are asked to keep one meter of distance from each other.
Pope Francis announced that he would live stream his daily morning Masses after the Italian government decree suspended all public religious ceremonies in the country until April 3.
“We continue to pray together, in this moment of pandemic, for the sick, for family members, for parents with children at home,” Pope Francis said at the beginning of Mass on March 12.
“But above all, I would like to ask you to pray for the authorities: they must decide … on measures that people do not like. But it is for our sake … We pray for our rulers who must make the decision on these measures that they feel accompanied by the prayers of the people,” the pope said.