It’s not enough to know that global poverty exists. Pope Benedict XVI says that change will happen when people become “personally outraged by the injustices in the world.”
Imagine what would happen if legislators received 1 million personal phone calls from Catholics calling for increased international aid, migration reform and diplomatic responses to conflict? Or if 1 million Catholics invited their friends and faith communities to learn more about the impoverishing effects of climate change or the extraction of natural resources. What if 1 million people showed up at your next meeting?
That’s a lot of people. And when 1 million people want things to change, change happens. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services invite you to be one in a million. Through Catholics Confront Global Poverty, you can be part of an initiative dedicated to tackling the causes of global poverty head- on and pushing for lasting, sustainable solutions.
- Increasing and improving international assistance, finishing debt forgiveness, and instituting fairer trade policies, all of which can help poor countries overcome poverty.
- Peacebuilding and diplomacy to help transform conflict into peace.
- Migration policies that respect the dignity of immigrants and their families and address the root causes of migration and trafficking.
- Environmental practices that reverse climate change and sustain the planet and that allow poor people in resource-rich countries to have a say in how natural resources are used and safeguarded.
- Sign up for Catholics Confront Global Poverty at usccb.org/globalpoverty or crs.org/globalpoverty. You’ll receive resources, ideas and opportunities to help you learn, pray and act to confront global poverty.
- Learn more about the issues outlined in this initiative and the variety of ways that you can begin to take action.
- Get a group of friends together. Choose an issue and decide where you want to put your creative energies.
Bring economic justice to the poor
In the current global economic downturn, the poor are hit first and worst. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Canceling the debt payments of poor countries, increasing and reforming international assistance, and making global trade and agricultural policies fair and just are all ways to give struggling countries the wherewithal to rise from poverty. This requires Catholics and other people of goodwill to understand and advocate for U.S. policies that make a difference in these areas.
Here are ways you can get involved:
- Invite experts from your university to speak to your young adult or campus group about ways that trade, aid and debt affect poor countries. Topics might include:
- How does what I buy help or hurt the world’s poor?
- Do my tax dollars reach the world’s poor?
- How are poor persons the first and worst victims of the economic crisis?
- Forgive us our debts: The role of debt forgiveness in strengthening poor countries.
- What is the affect of current trade policies on the most vulnerable persons in the U.S. and abroad?
- What are Fair Trade Certified products and how can you get them?
- Promote Fair Trade certified products. This certification means that the producers are part of a poverty alleviation program that guarantees producers of items such as coffee, tea and chocolate, a fair wage. Learn how you can hold a fair-trade coffee house, use more fair trade products in your group and promote the sale of fair trade in your community. Visit crsfairtrade.org
- Sponsor prayer services and special liturgies that invite people to open their eyes to economic injustice and their hearts to ending it. Commemorative days and seasons include: World Fair Trade Day, May 9, 2009 or Labor Day, the first Monday of September.
Poverty often compels people to migrate to other countries, such as the United States, to find the work necessary to support their families. A country’s migration policies have a profound effect on whether migrants are treated with dignity or whether they must suffer for their effort. Catholics Confront Global Poverty calls upon one million Catholics to address the root cause of migration and support the reform of U.S. immigration policy to better respect the dignity of immigrants and their families.
Here are ways that you can get involved:
- Hold a dramatic reading or viewing of the DVD, The Line in the Sand: Stories from the U.S. Mexico Border, available from Catholic Relief Services, as a way to study how poverty impacts immigration. This stage drama by Villanova University theater students, tells real stories of immigration from all sides of the issue. Get a copy of the drama and other resources from crs.org/dramaproject.
- Invite fellow students whose families have migrated to the U.S. to tell about their experiences.
- Learn more about how to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform by visiting the Justice for Immigrants Campaign sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Visit justiceforimmigrants.org/
- Sponsor prayer services and special liturgies that invite people to open their eyes to the scriptural call to welcome the stranger. During the Christmas season prayers and liturgies about the holy family connect the flight of Jesus and Mary and Joseph to the movement of migrants and refugees.
- Be ready to advocate for policies that affect migration by joining Catholics Confront Global Poverty (usccb.org/globalpoverty or crs.org/globalpoverty) or by being a member of the USCCB Justice, Peace, and Human Development mailing list (sign up at usccb.org/sdwp/takeaction.shtml) or the CRS Advocacy Network (sign up at http://actioncenter.crs.org/signup) and sending action alerts to your network of peers.
People in poverty are the first to suffer when natural resources such as oil, gas and timber are unethically exploited and our ecosystems are compromised by overconsumption and the burning of fossil fuels. Catholics Confront Global Poverty calls upon one million Catholics to work 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 ensure the life and sustainability of the planet and reduce the impact of climate change on people living in poverty.
Here are ways you can get involved:
- Learn more about the effect of extractive industries and climate change upon poverty by choosing these topics for class papers and projects. Background information at usccb.org/globalpoverty or crs.org/globalpoverty can get you started.
- Make sure that your young adult group or campus ministry does all it can to reduce, reuse and recycle, which decrease the demand for the extraction of natural resources and also help address the factors that cause climate change.
- Practice solidarity by resisting individual practices that, when done on a global scale, impoverish people. For example, on certain days of the week, reduce your meat consumption, which requires a lot more grain than just eating grain and plant- based foods. Another idea is to pay attention to where the food you buy is grown—and make an effort to purchase food grown locally. Transportation of food from farther away requires the consumption of more fossil fuels.
- Learn more about efforts the Catholic Church is taking to combat climate change by visiting the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change website at catholicsandclimatechange.org.
- Sponsor prayer services and special liturgies that invite people to open their eyes to the ways that climate and natural resource extraction affect the poor. Earth Day (April 22) and the Feast of St. Francis (October 4) are great times to invite reflection on the relationship between caring for creation and addressing poverty.
- Advocate for policies that affect climate change and resource extraction by joining Catholics Confront Global Poverty (usccb.org/globalpoverty or crs.org/globalpoverty) or by being a member of the USCCB Justice, Peace, and Human Development mailing list (sign up at usccb.org/sdwp/takeaction.shtml) or the CRS Advocacy Network (sign up at http://actioncenter.crs.org/signup) and sending action alerts to your network of peers.
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. 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.
You can get involved by:
- Recognizing that peace begins with us as individuals. Invite members of your group to reflect on how they personally deal with conflict.
- Developing your own skills as a peacebuilder. A manual published by Caritas Internationalis is available at http://crs.org/publications/showpdf.cfm?pdf_id=85
- Sponsoring prayer services and special liturgies that invite people to work for peace and justice. The International Day of Peace is September 1. World Peace Day, when the Holy Father delivers a special address on peace, is January 1.
- Being ready to advocate for policies that affect peacebuilding and diplomacy by joining Catholics Confront Global Poverty (usccb.org/globalpoverty or crs.org/globalpoverty) or by being a member of the USCCB Justice, Peace, and Human Development mailing list (sign up at usccb.org/sdwp/takeaction.shtml) or the CRS Advocacy Network (sign up at http://actioncenter.crs.org/signup).
Be on call to save the world
By joining Catholics Confront Global Poverty (usccb.org/globalpoverty or crs.org/globalpoverty) or the USCCB Justice, Peace, and Human Development mailing list (sign up at usccb.org/sdwp/takeaction.shtml) or the CRS Advocacy Network (sign up at http://actioncenter.crs.org/signup) you will be notified when important legislation is being considered that will impact the various issues that affect global poverty. Pass along action alerts to you friends. And keep your cell phone handy.
Visit usccb.org/globalpoverty or crs.org/globalpoverty. And remember, when you’re one in a million – you’re never alone.