Poverty is a moral crisis threatening our country Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010 -- 12:00 AM

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October as Respect Life Month prompts us to think about all aspects of human life. Our Catholic faith emphasizes the dignity of human life from the womb to the tomb.

Between the womb and tomb, we require the basics of food, clothing, and shelter to survive. Hopefully most of you reading this have far beyond the minimum daily requirements of all of those essentials.

Poverty is on the rise

However, a growing number of people in the United States do not have enough food to eat, adequate clothing to wear, or even a place to live. Poverty is on the rise in our country.

A volunteer from the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Madison told me about a family he visited. There were only green tomatoes in the refrigerator. The children were sleeping on the floor. They had very few clothes.

It makes us sit up and think about our own lives and the things we take for granted. But it also should make us angry about the systems and policies in our country that bring about such awful living conditions.

We want to encourage babies to be born and children to be welcomed. But after they’re born, what happens to some of them?
There are ways we can help those facing poverty by volunteering our time and donations to charitable organizations such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society and other community organizations.

Lifting people out of poverty

But we can also assist with systemic efforts to lift people out of poverty. In the Catholic Church, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and Catholic Charities USA are both working to reduce poverty in our country.

CCHD provides an educational component along with grants to organizations that help the poor help themselves. CCHD bases its work on Catholic social teaching, which recognizes the dignity and worth of all people. For more on the CCHD, go to www.usccb.org/cchd

Catholic Charities USA — which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary — has launched its Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America. This is a multi-year, multi-faceted approach to alleviating poverty in the U.S.

The goals of the Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America are:

• To reduce poverty in the United States by 50 percent by the year 2020.

• To call upon the government to do more to serve those who are poor, and to improve public policies that strengthen and support families.

• To educate policymakers and the public about the struggles of those living in poverty and the good work of those who serve them in local communities.

• To engage those who are most impacted by government policies to be active participants in developing solutions to reducing poverty.

• To work with individuals and organizations across the country to address poverty in our country.

Catholic Charities has called upon all people in our nation to join them in addressing the issues that impact the most vulnerable and act now to reduce poverty in our nation. For more, go to www.catholiccharitiesusa.org

A moral crisis

Poverty is indeed a moral crisis threatening our country. Across the country, local Catholic Charities agencies continue to struggle to meet the increased needs of individuals and working families. Waiting lists are growing, agency staff are distressed and discouraged, and food vouchers are disappearing.

Scarce and dwindling revenue sources from state/federal government, individuals, and corporations threaten programs, services, and staff.
All of us need to be aware of the poverty around us, assist those in need, and examine ways to work for long-term solutions to reduce poverty.

As followers of Christ, respect for the life and dignity of all persons should motivate us to act.