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Alms are requests for justice

The question of begging has come to the fore in our society in recent times. Social welfare has traditionally been a central element in the system of values that prevails in Finnish society.

We are accustomed to the fact that society takes care of the poor, the sick and others who are in distress. As individuals, we have traditionally discharged our own responsibilities in this respect by paying taxes and taking part in the work of charitable organizations.

Now the appearance of beggars on the streets in Finland has brought poverty before our eyes. We could obscure it from view, of course, by passing a law prohibiting begging, but that would not resolve the problem of poverty either here or in other parts of the world. A different kind of commitment to global responsibility is called for.

Care and responsibility for the whole world and its welfare is a central part of living out our Christian faith. As Christians we cannot shut our eyes to the sufferings and plight of others, for our faith obliges us to act on behalf of a more just world.

The giving of alms is a way of caring for those in difficulties. In many languages the corresponding word for “alms” implies both mercy and justice.

A beggar on the street corner or on the steps of a church is crying out for justice, mercy and respect.

© Suomen ortodoksisen arkkipiispan kanslia, Liisankatu 29 A, 00170 Helsinki, puh. 020 6100 240, helsingin.hiippakunta@ort.fi