Fr James Hanvey calls for action as well as words to combat poverty

  • Martha Behan

Speakers panel

Speakers panel

At an event, organised jointly by Caritas Westminster and the Agency for Evangelisation to prepare for the first World Day of the Poor, Fr James Hanvey SJ said that 'one of the greatest tragedies of our day is the breakdown of political discourse' explaining that we need Catholic social teaching (CST) to 'uphold the deep dignity of the person'.

During his talk, titled 'Say it with Your Life' he addressed what he feels to be some of the important points of CST, telling listeners that it is not 'abstract thinking or theological reflection' but about 'the issues of the day'. He asked the audience to think about the idea that CST is actually 'the life and witness of the Spirit and is therefore deeply embedded in the mission of the Church and every Christian life'.

He went on to say that if we are only seen as producers of economic wealth then we are disposable and 'we don't trust politics to deliver what we need'. A core idea, he said, is that people should not be reduced to objects. 'The fundamental rule of society is that these systems are there to serve the person…not the reverse'.

He explained that although it is easy for individuals feel overwhelmed when faced with a society that believes 'the market will save us' we have to start with small steps, helped by the guidance of CST.

The audience also heard from Tom O'Connor from Providence Row and Ellen Teague about practical ways of bringing CST to life. Director of Evangelisation Fr Chris Vipers closed the event by reminding people that we are called to show love with our life.

The first World Day of the Poor was announced by Pope Francis in 2016 and will take place on Sunday, 19 November. The theme of this year is 'love not in word, but in deed'.

The full recording of his talk will be available next week on the Agency for Evangelisation website:

For more information in what is happening in the Diocese of Westminster for World Day of the Poor see"

Tags: Caritas, James Hanvey SJ, Ellen Teague, Fr Chris Vipers, Tom O'Connor

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