WASHINGTON (CNS) — More than 250,000 Catholics have been reached through the Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative, a joint effort by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services to address the root causes of global poverty through education and advocacy.
In less than seven months, the initiative has reached one quarter of its goal to mobilize 1 million Catholics, according to a recent announcement from the USCCB and CRS, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency.
The initiative calls on Catholics to learn about and share the stories of those struggling to rise above extreme poverty, to pray for the world’s poorest people and to approach policymakers on the issue as advocates for the poor worldwide.
“The global financial crisis is having a devastating impact on people here and the poor around the world, and the progress that has been made could be wiped out for decades to come,” Ken Hackett, CRS president, said in a statement. “In a world where an estimated 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty, the message of the church is clear. As Catholics, we are called to help our brothers and sisters in need.”
Catholics Confront Global Poverty was launched in February 2009 in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 message for the World Day of Peace, titled “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace.”
Through his encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” (“Charity in Truth”), the pope reiterated his plea for richer nations to stand with people living in poverty and take action, especially in light of the global financial crisis.
“Through support for economically poor countries by means of financial plans inspired by solidarity … not only can true economic growth be generated, but a contribution can be made toward sustaining the productive capacities of rich countries that risk being compromised by the crisis,” he said in the encyclical.
As of mid-September, the USCCB and CRS said, more than 250,000 Catholics — in parishes, in schools and universities, and in communities of men and women religious — have been connected to grass-roots efforts to raise awareness of global poverty.
Participants in the initiative are involved in social networking, presentations and prayers, and many have sent messages to and visited with their elected officials on legislative measures to fight global poverty.
The USCCB and CRS said grass-roots advocacy by Catholics who objected to cuts in the 2010 State Foreign Operations Appropriations bill helped protect funding for anti-poverty initiatives.
“This is a great example of how our advocacy work benefits those we serve overseas while at the same time providing opportunities for Catholics to act on their faith and join the work of CRS,” Hackett said.
The initiative asks Catholics to take action on issues such as improving and increasing U.S. international assistance; strengthening international peacekeeping and peace-building initiatives; reforming global trade and agriculture policies; ensuring that poorer countries’ natural resources are used in ways that protect the environment; promoting comprehensive immigration reform; and addressing global climate change.
More information on the Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative is available online at www.usccb.org/sdwp/globalpoverty.
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