In bad economy, we Catholics are called to walk the talk

| September 28, 2011 | 0 Comments

Poverty stats

Don’t be surprised if you begin hearing more at your parish about the terrible toll our nation’s economy is taking on families and communities.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, recently sent a letter to his fellow bishops, urging them “to continue [to] do all you can to lift up the human, moral and spiritual dimensions of the ongoing economic crisis,” which shows little sign of ending anytime soon.

His letter follows a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau that 46 million people lived in poverty in the United States in 2010, including 16 million children. The overall poverty rate — 15.1 percent — increased for the third consecutive year.

Also increasing was the number of people without health insurance.

Answering the call

“Widespread unemployment, underemployment and pervasive poverty are diminishing human lives, undermining human dignity, and hurting children and families,” Archbishop Dolan wrote. “I hope we can use our opportunities as pastors, teachers, and leaders to focus public attention and priority on the scandal of so much poverty and so many without work in our society.”

To that end, the bishops have created a special “Unemployment and Poverty” page at that features resources for bishops, pastors and other church leaders to educate the faithful and advocate on behalf of the poor and jobless.

We Catholics of the archdiocese are in no way immune to the consequences of a broken economy. Many of us have family members or friends who have lost jobs, suffered layoffs or faced the stress and fear of potentially losing a job because of cutbacks. In some cases, we ourselves are the ones coping with these challenges.

While Archbishop Dolan’s letter was directed at bishops, we should all answer the call to raise awareness and help those in need, whether they are people we know personally or strangers.

That’s what the Gospel, what Jesus, calls us to do. The closing lines of the bishops’ pastoral reflection “A Place at the Table” includes this quote from the First Letter of John: “If anyone is well-off in worldly possessions and sees his brother in need but closes his heart to him, how can the love of God be remaining in him? Children, our love must be not just words or mere talk, but something active and genuine.”

So what can we do?

  • We can dig a little deeper when it comes for our parish’s Sunday collection and for second collections that benefit organizations helping the poor. We can use the savings from foregoing a night of eating out, or a week’s worth of coffee shop visits, to send a contribution to Catholic Charities, Sharing and Caring Hands, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development or another anti-poverty organization.
  • We can volunteer our time for a parish ministry that helps the unemployed or families struggling for other reasons. We can help at food shelves, which are seeing larger numbers of the working poor. We can help our neighbor feeling the pinch of a tight budget with a project or errand.
  • We can visit the bishops’ “Unemployment and Poverty” page to learn more about the church’s views about the economy and how we can bring hope to those in need.
  • And, of course, we can pray.

We can bring help and inspire hope. That’s what Archbishop Dolan is asking all of us to do. That’s what we, as Catholics, are called to do.

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Category: Editorials