By Devin Watkins
In a letter sent on Monday to over 100 street papers around the world, Pope Francis acknowledged that the coronavirus outbreak has severely tested the people who rely on them for an income.
“I would like to acknowledge the world of street papers and especially the vendors – who for the most part are homeless, terribly marginalized, or unemployed: thousands of people across the world who live and have a job thanks to selling these extraordinary newspapers”, Pope Francis writes.
Giving voice to the marginalized
Street papers are publications produced to support those who write, edit and distribute them. These newspapers often seek to give the marginalized a voice in their community.
More than 100 street papers are published in 35 countries, in 25 different languages. They provide 20,500 people with employment and an income.
Pope Francis expressed appreciation for this mission, and warmly recalled a Caritas Italy project called Scarp de’ tenis.
The publication provides an income and “access to fundamental citizens’ rights” to over 130 people facing financial and social difficulties.
Paying a high price
Pope Francis also lamented that the Covid-19 pandemic has kept those who rely on street papers from working. He said the “most vulnerable, the invisible, and those without an abode are at risk of paying the highest price” from the coronavirus.
“I would like to express my solidarity with the journalists, the volunteers, and the people living thanks to these projects and who these days are doing everything they can thanks to many innovative ideas,” he said.
The pandemic, said the Pope, has made their work difficult. “But I am sure that the great network of street papers will come back stronger than ever.”
Stories of hope
In conclusion, the Pope encouraged everyone to turn our attention to the poor during this unique moment.
He said the poor can “help us all realize how much is actually happening to us and what our circumstances really are.”
“Thank you for the work you do,” said Pope Francis, “for the information you provide, and for the stories of hope that you tell.”