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Homeless Street Performer in London Decries Loss of Communal Space

Zoe Romanowsky - published on 10/15/15 - updated on 06/08/17

How we allow space to be used affects the poor and weak

“Pete,” a low-wage-earning performing artist and poet, has been squatting in empty London commercial buildings for over two years. He calls this lifestyle a “DIY” solution to the problem of displacement and limited affordable housing options in London, a city with a homelessness crisis.

Lamenting the privatization of once-public places, Pete says people are being robbed of communal space, which is ultimately connected to a fast-paced work culture. This short film, directed by Matt Hopkins, a UK filmmaker, as part of his England Your England documentary series, brings to mind the social teaching of the Catholic Church and its emphasis on the rights of the poor, which is integral to the building of a just and peaceful society:

Therefore everyone has the right to possess a sufficient amount of the earth’s goods for themselves and their family. This has been the opinion of the Fathers and Doctors of the church, who taught that people are bound to come to the aid of the poor and to do so not merely out of their superfluous goods. Persons in extreme necessity are entitled to take what they need from the riches of others. –  Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World), Vatican II, 1965, #69.
It will be necessary above all to abandon a mentality in which the poor – as individuals and as peoples – are considered a burden, as irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced… The advancement of the poor constitutes a great opportunity for the moral, cultural and even economic growth of all humanity. – Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples), Pope Paul VI, 1967, #28.
Those who are more influential because they have greater share of goods and common services should feel responsible for the weaker and be ready to share with them all they possess… – Solicitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concern, Donders translation), Pope John Paul II, 1987, #39.

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