Leader of US Bishops Asks for Preaching on Poverty

Says Unemployment Is More Than an Issue

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WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 20, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The leader of the U.S. bishops’ conference is urging his brother prelates to bring the «scandal» of poverty and unemployment to public attention.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York made this appeal in a Sept. 15 letter to all bishops.

«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,» he wrote.

The archbishop said his letter came in response to a request from the bishops’ administrative committee, which reported that 46 million people (15%) now live in poverty in the United States.

Archbishop Dolan’s letter requested the bishops to continue to «do all you can to lift up the human, moral and spiritual dimensions of the ongoing economic crisis.»

Unemployment numbers «are not statistics,» he reminded, «but people suffering and wounded in their human dignity.»

The archbishop offered resources to the bishops to assist them in their preaching and educating the public. He also requested that they share their own statements and actions on this theme.


Without offering an extensive treatise on Catholic social doctrine, Archbishop Dolan did cite Benedict XVI to offer part of the solution.

«The best way out of poverty is to work at a living wage,» he explained. «In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, ‘Being out of work or dependent on public or private assistance for a prolonged period undermines the freedom and creativity of the person and his family and social relationships, causing great psychological and spiritual suffering’ (Caritas in Veritate, No. 25).»

The New York archbishop spoke of the «political and economic behaviors» at the base of «economic failures.»

But he said it is not the time for excuses or placing blame: «It is a time for everyone to accept their own personal and institutional responsibility to help create jobs and to overcome poverty, each in accord with their own abilities and opportunities. Individuals and families, faith-based and community groups, businesses and labor, government at every level, all must work together and find effective ways to promote the common good in national and economic life.»

«It is an essential part of our work as Catholics to build a more just society and economy,» the archbishop stated. «We feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, educate the young, welcome refugees and care for the sick and vulnerable. Our Church serves and stands in solidarity with those who are poor and jobless, helping them break the cycle of poverty and act on behalf of their own families and communities.»

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On the Net:

Full text: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/economic-justice-economy/letter-to-bishops-on-economic-situation.cfm

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