Use these weekly bulletin announcements to engage your parish in confronting global poverty. A six-week effort is suggested here, but please feel free to adapt to fit your parish’s own needs.
Introducing the initiative
Our parish has dedicated (insert dates here) as a time to learn about and take action on issues related to poverty around the world. During this time, our parish committees and ministries are invited to relate this focus to their work and activities. Please check the bulletin for the activities and opportunities to be involved.
The effort is part of Catholics Confront Global Poverty, sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The initiative invites Catholics throughout the United States to become part of one million participants who commit to actively making a difference to confront global poverty through prayer, learning, advocacy and activities.
This initiative focuses on several issues that affect our brothers and sisters in poverty:
Giving countries an economic boost out of poverty through aid, trade, and debt relief
In these tough economic times, the world’s poorest countries have been hit hardest of all. In 2008, the global price of food skyrocketed as fuel prices rose to unprecedented heights. Meanwhile the number of undernourished people climbed by 40 million to 963 million worldwide. By early 2009, the global economic crisis had wealthy countries rethinking their commitments to provide needed emergency and long-term assistance to poorer nations.
But now more than ever the United States and other wealthy countries must not balance their budgets on the backs of the poor. Debt forgiveness, begun with such promise at the turn of the millennium, can free up the financial resources that poor countries need to develop. Funding for international assistance, which represents less than 1 percent of the U.S. Gross National Income, can be increased and shaped in such a way that it makes a significant difference in ending global poverty, from expanding educational opportunities to developing sustainable markets. Meanwhile, trade policies that are reformed to follow fair and ethical principles can create a global economic system that benefits all.
This week you can:
Safeguarding the planet protects people in poverty
The catechism of the Catholic Church (#280) reminds us that one of the places that people encounter God is in the glory of creation. And indeed we have been blessed with a world rich in resources that sustain us and climates that nurture us. When our ecosystems are compromised by overconsumption and the burning of fossil fuels, those in poverty are often the first to suffer. The poor are also especially vulnerable to natural disasters caused by climate change, such as floods, storms and fires. People in poverty suffer disproportionately because they often lack early warning systems and education on how to avert disaster, and their weak infrastructure cannot withstand natural disaster. When natural resources, such as oil, minerals and timber, are exploited from regions beset by conflict and poor governance or from indigenous lands and untouched environments, the results are often social conflict, corruption, pollution, illness and displacement—results that disproportionately impact the poor. Rather than benefiting people in poverty, such extraction of resources often leads to conditions that make people poorer.
Catholics Confront Global Poverty calls upon one million Catholics to work to ensure that the goods and graces of the earth benefit all, especially the world’s most vulnerable people, by working for policies that ensure that people who live in poor but resource-rich regions have a say in the extraction and use of their natural resources. The initiative also calls for policies that reduce the impact of climate change on people living in poverty and help developing countries access the technologies needed to reduce their own impact on the environment.
This week you can:
Giving displaced people the hope of stable work and a stable life
The Catholic Bishops of the United States and Mexico have reminded us that the United States is a country of immigrants, founded on principles that welcome the stranger and promise opportunity. When poverty compels workers to leave their homes to search for work in other countries, many find that the move leads to more hardship. Currently, restrictive migration policies throughout the world have resulted in few avenues for legal or safe migration. Instead, many migrants experience abuse and exploitation as they travel in dangerous conditions. They are subjected to extortion and physical and sexual violence, and die of exposure, dehydration or drowning. Many migrants have little access to protection, legal representation or basic services. Migrants also experience separation from their families for long periods of time as restrictive immigration policies prevent families from being unified.
Catholics Confront Global Poverty calls on one million Catholics to work for comprehensive reform of U.S. migration policy so that migrants have a path to citizenship, can enter the U.S. to work in a safe, regulated and humane manner, can be protected from exploitation and harassment, and can be united with family members. At the same time the Church recognizes that people should not be compelled to leave their countries in search of work; they have a right not to migrate. That means that the economic disparities at the root of migration must be addressed as well.
This week you can:
Blessed are the peacemakers
Poverty and violence often go hand in hand, each one exacerbating the other. Seventy-three percent of the poorest billion people in the world have lived through a violent conflict, or are embroiled in conflict now. Research has shown that the higher the poverty rate and the longer economic stagnation persists in a country, the more prone it is to conflict. Violence also reverses development by destroying infrastructure, schools, hospitals, livelihoods, people’s homes, their families, and their dreams. It causes the displacement of peoples and the instability of communities.
In its call for Christians to protect the common good, the Church has long taught that the peace of a just social order is necessary in order for people to have all that they need for lives of dignity and hope.
Catholics Confront Global Poverty calls upon one million Catholics to prompt our government to play a constructive and prominent role in building sustainable peace in the world. Such an effort requires greater diplomacy in collaboration with the international community to support peacekeeping missions in places like Darfur and to bring those involved in conflict, such as the Israelis and the Palestinians, to the negotiating table. It requires greater emphasis on development assistance to both lessen the conditions that can lead to violence and to enable societies to recover from violence. It also requires support for United Nations and regional peacekeeping forces to assist in preserving negotiated peace settlements.
This week you can:
Thank you for participating in our parish’s efforts to learn about and act against poverty as part of Catholics Confront Global Poverty. During our sixth week of activities to confront global poverty, we reflect on the fact that ending poverty takes more than a few weeks. Our continued commitment, as individuals and as a parish, in solidarity with billions of members of our human family who live in poverty, are necessary in order to confront global poverty and ultimately, to end it.
You can stay involved by: