‘The Church, guided by the Gospel of mercy and by love for humankind, hears the cry for justice and intends to respond to it with all her might.’ In this context we can understand Jesus’ command to his disciples: ‘You yourselves give them something to eat!’ (Mk 6:37): It means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor, as well as small daily acts of solidarity in meeting the real needs which we encounter.”
– Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel
From May 13 – 17, I joined delegates from around the world for the World Assembly of Pax Christi International to commemorate their 70th anniversary. The Missionary Society of St. Columban is one of many religious communities who are member organizations of Pax Christi, a global Catholic peace movement dedicated to peace and reconciliation.
Two of the obstacles to peace are the poverty and inequality that exists throughout the world, and within every country, including our own.
Poverty is a form of violence against the dignity of the human person. It restricts the possibilities for total human development. Christians believe the gifts of the earth come from God and are to be shared for the good of all. We are caretakers of creation, not owners. We see and experience the effects of poverty, and wonder what we can do about it. The Gospel and our faith provide us with an invitation.
We see the faces of poverty in our world every day and the impact on the poor and their children who lack access to proper housing, education, healthcare, and meaningful employment. We see the ways in which poverty and inequality create conditions of violence for people who are hungry, displace by war or natural disasters, fleeing criminal gangs or human traffickers.
Columbans from around the world (Australia, Chile, Fiji, Ireland, Korea, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States) are committed to working with the poor and with people of other faiths for structural change as part of an integrated strategy to address the root causes of violence, including poverty and environmental injustice. We see the structural causes and systematic impact that policies of war, free trade, and environmental over-consumption have on the poor throughout the world and on God’s creation.
The Gospel message challenges us to look at what is unjust about the way our world is structured and to work to bring about the changes needed for the fair sharing of the earth’s resources.
On April 28, Pope Francis met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss climate change and sustainable development at a historic meeting in the Vatican called “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity.” In September, the Pope will address the U. N. General Assembly in New York as they meet to adopt a new, post-2015 framework for sustainable development. The number one goal of this framework is to end poverty in all of its forms everywhere. According to the U.N., “Poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.”
FAITH IN ACTION: Support Peace and the People of Okinawa, Close the Military Base