Caritas warns of spiraling poverty, asks for solidarity

Caritas – the Catholic agency for justice, peace and development, has warned of spiralling poverty across the European Union (EU) in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

“Solidarity is now more urgent than ever for reducing poverty in Europe and worldwide, especially given the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic”, Caritas-Europa says.

“We urge EU member-states to unite, place common interests ahead of national interests and come to an agreement soon on the next seven-year EU budget. Millions of EU residents, as well as neighbouring and developing countries, benefit from EU funding – all of this is at risk if no agreement is reached”.

US Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, agrees with Caritas’s concerns and is asking Catholics from around the world to help.

The pandemic invites Catholics to listen with courage to the cry of the poor and to act in solidarity, he says.

Pope Francis describes hope and solidarity as “a new contagion”, beyond the darkness of this pandemic that has “caused a lot of sorrow, broken up families, taken away dear ones”, Turkson explained last week.

Turkston and two other panelists were speakers at a forum co-sponsored by Catholic Relief Services and the Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life and by last week.

The forum looked at how the pandemic is affecting the world beyond the US borders, and what the US responsibilities are to other countries.

Turkson leads a new commission Francis has created to confront the challenges the world is facing in battling the coronavirus pandemic and what it will inevitably face in its aftermath.

“Pandemics do not have to break us up,” Turkson said. It is time to “put together our resources” to find solutions.

Another panelist, Haydee Diaz, head of programming for Catholic Relief Services in Uganda, said American Catholics are making “an incredible difference” in the lives of the poor in Uganda and other countries in Africa and around the world.

“The poor are counting on us. They don’t know where their next meal is coming from”, he said.

Turkson said tcommission has five working groups.

The first is dedicated to listening to and supporting local churches. The second is focused on research and the study of the pandemic and reflecting on society and the world after the coronavirus.

Other working groups focus on communication, relations with other countries to assist and share valuable research information, and financing the commission’s relief efforts.

John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life and moderator of the panel discussion, asked Turkson to tell the pope “he does not stand alone”.

“We stand with him,” he said.

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