In his message for the fifth World Day of the Poor, which takes place on 14th November 2021, Pope Francis said If the poor are marginalized, as if they were to blame for their condition, then the very concept of democracy is jeopardized and every social policy will prove bankrupt.” We often think of what we should do, or say, when confronted with poverty. “With great humility, we should confess that we are often incompetent when it comes to the poor.

Over 50 people came together to reflect on this message on 9 October at St.Rita’s in Honiton, led by Bishop Mark O’Toole and Canon John Deeny. Bishop Mark reflected on the story about Simon the Leper and  how Jesus interacted with the poor. He reminded us that Jesus actively reached out to those in need:  “we cannot wait for the poor to knock on our door; we need urgently to reach them in their homes, in hospitals and nursing homes, on the streets and in the dark corners where they sometimes hide.”  A copy of the full recording of Bishop Mark’s reflection is here.

Raymond Friel, Chief Executive of the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN), talked about how we can view poverty through a religious lens, and understanding the causes of current poverty. He stressed that we should be “working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor” to break the cycle of deprivation.

Sarah Watts, Children’s Catholic Society Plymouth (CCSP) gave examples of the impact of poverty on family life within the Diocese. CCSP offers grant giving, parental advice, and the Good Shepherd programme, which teaches children Christian values through empathy and compassion.

In collaboration with Redemptorist Publications, CSAN have produced a PDF resource for parishes, schools and individuals, which includes a novena for World Day of the Poor and a See-Judge-Act exercise for groups.

The message from Pope Francis for the day can be found here


To contact Caritas to be involved in future events, please email us here: – 01364 645421