The “fragile”, the “invisible” and the homeless “risk paying the heaviest price” for COVID-19, Pope Francis has warned.
In a message published today to the world of street newspapers, the pontiff lamented that the world is “gripped by many difficult challenges to face” and is “oppressed” by the coronavirus pandemic.
On top of that, the life of millions of poor people “has changed and has been put to a harsh test”, Francis denounced.
An example of that harsh change, the Pope said, is that affecting the world of the papers and magazines sold by the homeless and other marginalised people.
In total, some 100 publications printed in 35 different countries and in 25 different languages and employing over 20,000 people worldwide have seen their income largely dry up because of the pandemic, Francis lamented.
But still, the Pope had hope.
“I am sure that the large global network of street newspapers will come back stronger than before” when the coronavirus has subsided, Francis affirmed.
Responding to the Pope’s message of “encouragement and fraternal friendship” to street paper workers, Maree Aldam, chief executive of the International Network of Street Papers (INSP), said her network was grateful for the Pope’s support.
“The International Network of Street Papers is pleased to once again have the vocal support of Pope Francis, especially as the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised people face uncertain times ahead while society fights back against this pandemic”, Aldam said.
“It is essential that world and community leaders of all stripes come together in solidarity to raise up those in poverty, and back the organisations – like street papers – that do such great work in helping those most in need”.
Full text of the Pope’s greetings to the world of street newspapers
The life of millions of people, in our world that is already gripped by many difficult challenges to face and oppressed by the pandemic, has changed and has been put to a harsh test.
Those who are most fragile, the invisible, those without fixed abode, risk paying the heaviest price.
I would therefore like to greet the world of street newspapers and especially their vendors, who are for the most part homeless; people who are gravely marginalised, unemployed: thousands of people who throughout the world earn a living and have a job thanks to the sales of these extraordinary newspapers.
In Italy, I think of the good experience of Scarp de’ tenis, the Caritas project that enables more than 130 people in difficulty to have an income and as a result, access to fundamental citizens’ rights.
And not only this. I think of the experience of more than 100 street newspapers throughout the world, published in 35 different countries and in 25 different languages, and which guarantee employment and an income to more than 20,500 homeless people worldwide.
For many weeks street newspapers have not been sold, and their vendors are unable to work.
I therefore wish to express my closeness to the journalists, to the volunteers, and to those who earn a living thanks to these projects and who in these times are hard at work with many innovative ideas.
The pandemic has made your work difficult but I am sure that the large global network of street newspapers will come back stronger than before.
Looking at the poorest, in these days, can help us all to be aware of what is truly happening to us, and of our true condition. I send you all my message of encouragement and fraternal friendship.
Thank you for the work you do, for the information you give, and for the stories of hope you tell.