The cardinal of Barcelona has denounced the plight of the half-a-million people who are in a situation of home precariousness in the archdiocese, and that of the one-in-four citizens who are suffering social exclusion.
Driving the news
Archbishop Juan José Omella dedicated his pastoral letter for the Feast of the Presentation, or Candlemas, this past Sunday February 2 to Christ as “the light that helps us to see clearly when everything is vague”.
Christ is “the light that helps us to see the darkest spaces of the reality of our surroundings: people who suffer, people who live in an unwanted loneliness”, Omella said.
“The light of Christ invites us to leave our comfort zone, to take off our glasses of indifference”.
And what a “hidden reality” is that of Barcelona, Spain’s second city and capital of the Catalonian region, with a population of just over 5.5 million people.
“Today, almost one in four people in our archdiocese” – around 675,000 of nearly 2.7 million people in total – “is in a situation of social exclusion”, Omella deplored, drawing on data from the FOESSA Foundation of Catholic Church charity Caritas.
“A social exclusion that causes social isolation, lack of political participation, a low level of education, job insecurity, residential exclusion and health problems”, the cardinal decried.
“The data tells us that fifteen out of every one hundred people in our archdiocese are in a situation of social isolation for a variety of reasons, such as families who cannot afford to rent their house because the father or mother has lost their job. and they are unemployed”, Omella continued.
The archbishop highlighted the fact that “accessing or maintaining decent housing is not possible for about a million people in our archdiocese”.
“Entire families live in re-rented rooms with the uncertainty that they can be thrown out from one day to the next. They are the invisible evictions that don’t appear in the statistics.
“I ask myself again and again: Why does it cost so much for our politicians and governments to address this very serious problem? Do we not all agree that it is a right recognized by the Constitution and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?”, Omella implored.
Why it matters
Other statistics “that should rock us as a society”, according to the cardinal, include the fact that residents in one out of every four homes in Barcelona go or have gone hungry, as well as the reality that in the Catalonian archdiocese 352,000 people can’t afford to undergo treatment and/or buy medicines for lack of funds.
“We have to say ‘enough’ to the drama of social exclusion”, Omella urged.
“We all have to work so that no one else falls into this people-shredding spiral. We must put in all our effort and ingenuity so that people who have been excluded can get out of that situation”.
The cardinal concluded his pastoral letter with an appeal to Catholics to “collaborate with us with your resources, your time and your voice”.
“We need to create warm spaces, cozy spaces, where people feel recognised and accompanied.
“We also need to work to recover a socioeconomic model that places the person in the center and where no one is left behind.
“Lord Jesus, help us to humanise our society”, Omella prayed.