USCCB News Release
December 17, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bishops Urge Catholics to Act on Pope's World Day of Peace Message
WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urges Catholics to follow the call of Pope Benedict XVI in his 2009 World Day of Peace Message, "Fighting Poverty to Build Peace." To promote action and awareness, the bishops have made available the text of the pope's message, as well as bulletin inserts and other resources on the USCCB Web site at: www.usccb.org/globalpoverty/.
"The bishops want to help people understand the extent of poverty," said Joan Rosenhauer, associate director for education and outreach of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the USCCB. "With 10 percent of families in the U.S. living in poverty and 1.4 billion people worldwide living in extreme poverty, the numbers alone express the urgency of this issue and why Pope Benedict would single it out as an essential part of working for peace."
World Day of Peace is January 1. In the papal message released December 10, Pope Benedict said that poverty is often a contributing factor in armed conflicts, which in turn fuel greater poverty. He decried the growing gap between rich and poor, even in the most developed nations. "This is a problem which the conscience of humanity cannot ignore, since the conditions in which a great number of people are living are an insult to their innate dignity and as a result are a threat to the authentic and harmonious progress of the world community," he said.
Pope Benedict addressed spiritual and moral poverty as well, noting that "in advanced wealthy societies, there is evidence of marginalization, as well as affective, moral and spiritual poverty, seen in people whose interior lives are disoriented and who experience various forms of malaise despite their economic prosperity."
Addressing other areas of poverty, the pope warned against viewing population as a problem and efforts to reduce birth-rates in poor countries. "The extermination of millions of unborn children, in the name of the fight against poverty, actually constitutes the destruction of the poorest of all human beings," he said. He also cited the importance of disarmament and moral responses to pandemic diseases and noted that children are the most vulnerable victims of poverty worldwide.
The pope said that globalization should benefit everyone, even the poorest countries, and said financial policies that have lacked "any long-term consideration of the common good" have hurt everyone. He also called for ethical approaches in market and policy.Building upon the pope's message on poverty, a full re-launch of USCCB's campaign against global poverty and its Web site is planned for February 23, at the USCCB annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering.