The cardinal of Barcelona has sounded an alarm for the estimated 20,000 people in the city suffering “energy poverty”.

Driving the news

The EU Energy Poverty Observatory defines “energy poverty” as the economic inability of households to provide the “adequate warmth, cooling, lighting and the energy to power appliances… [the] essential services needed to guarantee a decent standard of living and citizens’ health”.

It is those “energy poor” at the risk of serious illness and social exclusion that are the focus of Barcelona cardinal Juan José Omella’s letter to the Three Wise Men this 2020, following a Spanish tradition for the Feast of the Epiphany January 6.

Omella asks the Magi in his letter “for coal, a lot of coal, so that the most disadvantaged people can warm up when the cold bites”, alerting that in Barcelona alone, 20,000 people can’t afford to pay their electricity bills.

“Although, if you don’t mind, it would be better if you bring us other more modern and sustainable heating systems so as not to harm the planet”, the cardinal wryly observes.

Go deeper

Other petitions Omella makes to the Three Kings include that “when you go to visit the baby Jesus, give him our firm promise: this year we will try to be better people, we will try to do good and we will seek the interest of others over self-interest”.

“I also ask you to bring peace and fraternity to every corner of the world, so necessary in these times. Let the hatreds, revenge, divisions and clashes cease”, the cardinal of Barcelona implores.

“Thinking about people who complain about what they cannot have, I would like to ask you to send them paper and pencil so they can write down everything they own and realise how lucky they are”, Omella writes.

“And some erasers to make grudges and negative experiences disappear, which only weigh us down on the path of life”, he reflects.

Why it matters

Continuing with his requests of the Wise Men, Omella asks them for a watch for all people “with a tendency to complain continuously, so that they are aware of the importance of time and of dedicating it to what really matters: loving your neighbor and letting yourself be loved by God”.

“It is more joyful to give than to receive”, the cardinal recalls.

“Taking into account the delicate situation of the planet, if it could be I would ask you to bring 7.5 billion brooms, with their corresponding dustpans, so that we all contribute to the cleaning of the earth, because we are all responsible for taking care of it”, Omella writes.

“God created it to be everyone’s house and we must protect it”, the cardinal insists.

For the record

In the cardinal’s letter to the Wise Men, he doesn’t forget about children, for whom he asks “toys and everything necessary to have a decent life”.

“For adults, as most of us have more than necessary, it occurred to me that, instead of bringing us gifts, what you could do is take away everything that causes human suffering: lack of charity, hate, greed, misunderstanding and pride”, Omella reflects.

Finally, for non-believers, Omella asks the Magi to offer them “the opportunity to approach God to know his goodness and greatness”.

“I also ask you to help us to see clearly we already have the best gift that exists: that of life, and to be children of God himself, who gave us the life of his only Son to redeem us”, the cardinal concludes.

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.