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Pope warns against 'charity that costs nothing' in his message for Lent

In his speech to mark the start of the Lent season, Pope Francis focused on poverty. He detailed his mission to have a Church that is poor, and for the poor.

The message is focused on the meaning of poverty. The Pope said the definition must go beyond the common sense concept. He also made a distinction between poverty and misery. 


President, Pontifical Council Cor Unum

"The heart of the message is Christ, the poor. Our model of poverty, our vision, must be inspired in the nucleus of this message, Christ the poor.�


Secretary, Pontifical Council Cor Unum

"The poorer a person is, the more welcoming they are to Christ, and to his brothers and sisters. Another thing is misery. The Pope says there are at least three types of miseries: material, moral, and spiritual. And the Church feels invested in its responsibility to fight misery.�

Card. Robert Sarah and Msgr. Giampietro dal Toso presented the message on Tuesday. Material misery, the Pope explained, is the standard definition of poverty, where people lack the basic rights to live with dignity. The Church fights to restore that dignity, by promoting justice and equality.

The Pope described moral misery, or destitution, as the "slavery to vice and sin,� including "alcohol, gambling, drugs and pornography.� He attributed this concept to the lack of opportunity to live with dignity. Spiritual misery comes from rejecting the love of God.

The Pope also called on people to tackle misery; asking themselves what they can give up during the Lenten season to truly help others. But he warned against "charity that costs nothing and doesn't hurt.â? 


Secretary, Pontifical Council Cor Unum

"Charity is not only a gift from the top down, but it must be something that involves the person, something that touches us deep. That's why it can't be something useless. Charity is an outward expression of an attitude to life, that we take from ourselves and give to others.�

The Pope's message explained that poverty, which Christ chose to save humanity, also enriches a person. This wealth comes from being children of God. He said that it provides people with compassion, solidarity and tenderness.