WASHINGTON (June 14, 1999) -- Wall Street investors may enjoy record profits, but 35.6 million people in the United States live in poverty. This reality and challenge will be a key topic at the National Catholic Gathering for Jubilee Justice slated for July 15-18 in Los Angeles.
The leadership role of Catholics in advancing economic development in low-income communities, in helping poor people organize, and in lessening the punitive aspects of welfare reform will be highlighted during several workshops at the meeting, titled, "Open the Doors to Christ: A National Catholic Gathering for Jubilee Justice." At the closing session of the conference, the more than 2,000 registered participants will be asked to pledge to work to end poverty and racism domestically, and to promote debt relief, environmental justice, and peace throughout the world.
Three national Catholic organizations are collaborating on the development of innovative worker-owned, paraprofessional health care and child care companies that move poor people from welfare to work. During one workshop, the initiative partners -- the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Health Association and Catholic Charities USA -- will outline successful business models. The worker-owners, 80 percent of whom formerly received public assistance, will testify to how they moved from being welfare recipients to leaders in their own companies.
The workshop "Community and Interfaith Partnerships in Housing and Economic Development" will focus on specific ways for more church, community groups, and government to partner in building healthy communities. Five other scheduled workshops will explore community organizing and review different means and successful models for improving housing, schools, and employment in low-income areas.
"Bringing the Reality of Welfare 'Reform' into the Parishes" will examine a program developed by the dioceses of New England to educate parishioners about the impact of changes in public assistance. Used successfully in parishes, the model can be adapted for use in other parts of the country.
Meeting participants also can see the Church and community in action through scheduled site visits to four local low-income organizations: the Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches, Korean Immigrant Worker Advocates, Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, and Pueblo Nuevo Enterprises Cooperative, a worker-owned janitorial company.
The Jubilee Justice meeting is a time for Catholics from around the country to gather and recommit themselves to work for justice and peace. Featured speakers at the meeting include Nobel Peace Prize-winner Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo of East Timor, McArthur grantee Father J. Bryan Hehir, and PBS and CNN commentator Mark Shields.
Workshops in English and Spanish will address more than 100 topics, including racism, the environment, health care, non-violence, parish social ministry, liturgy and worship, debt forgiveness, sweatshops, immigration, euthanasia and other pro-life issues, education for justice and Catholic identity.
Co-chairs of the event, Annette Kane, Executive Director of the National Council of Catholic Women, and Father Robert Vitillo, Executive Director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, note that the meeting is a response to the Pope John Paul's call for Catholic to prepare for the Jubilee Year 2000.
Persons seeking copies of the registration booklet can call (202) 541-3149. Information on the meeting also can be found at www.nccbuscc.org/jubileejustice.