– Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, is calling on US Catholics to join its mission to build peace by fighting poverty in 2009. A renewed effort to confront global poverty as the key to a more peaceful world is the focus of the Holy Father’s message for World Day of Peace on January 1st.
Pope Benedict specifically identifies a number of “cruel forces of poverty” that are particular threats to peace, including the global food crisis and the AIDS pandemic. Both of these will continue to be priority areas targeted by CRS in 2009. In 2008, the agency launched a response to the global food crisis that is providing both immediate feeding programs and longer-term agricultural solutions, and brought assistance to some 4 million people worldwide affected by HIV and AIDS.
In the New Year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and CRS will re-launch the Catholic Campaign Against Global Poverty. A new initiative – Catholics Confront Global Poverty – will debut on February 23 at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, D.C.
“The Papal message was inspiration in its call to action,” says CRS President Ken Hackett. “The Holy Father is calling on people everywhere to feel ‘personally outraged by the injustices in the world.’ Supporting CRS and the new initiative, Catholics Confront Global Poverty, will give US Catholics the opportunity to answer this call.”
Catholics Confront Global Poverty will urge Catholics and our elected officials to act in response to the many faces of poverty – to help end hunger, disease, conflict, and other issues that affect the lives of our brothers and sisters worldwide.
“What we can do today, as we celebrate the New Year, is to also pray for peace where families are forced to endure a New Year of violence and grave danger, especially in Gaza and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” says Hackett. “Let’s pray that they have a 2009 to look forward to, and that the message of peace of our Holy Father enters the hearts of their leaders.”