Fr. David Garcia, Senior Advisor for Clergy Outreach for Catholic Relief Services, has a column in the San Antonio Express-News about the hope of the Easter Season and some hopeful news about global poverty:
In 2005 I was visiting London during the G8 Economic Summit in Gleaneagles, Scotland, where the leading economies of the world were meeting to address common issues. At that time churches, trade unions, charities and other groups in the UK were pressuring the summit to address the Millenium Development Goal of halving poverty in the world by 2015. They named their movement “Make Poverty History.” I remember at the time thinking there was so much stacked against the poorest of the world that this movement was little more than a dream.
The dream is starting to happen. The World Bank recently released a report that seemed to offer a rare thing: good news about global poverty. It said that from 2005 to 2008 the percentages and total number of people living in extreme poverty, namely people living on $1.25 a day or less, declined. Further, the report indicated that despite the world economic crisis global poverty kept falling through 2010. There is a real shot at reaching the goal of cutting poverty in half.
It is too early to celebrate the end of poverty but progress is being made. Being part of Catholic Relief Services, the international humanitarian and development agency representing Catholics of the United States, I have witnessed that efforts to attack the causes of poverty in the poorest areas of the world are working. Dedicated professionals are on the ground in those countries every day making a difference, but we all have a big role as well.
Last year CRS teamed with the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops through Catholics Confront Global Poverty to successfully lobby congress to retain poverty focused international aid when it was seriously threatened by proposed budget cuts. Many church groups of all denominations and others joined us and it made a huge difference in swaying the lawmakers. The result is that not only will we continue to reduce poverty but we will actually give people who would have died from poverty-related causes a new chance at life.
For Christians, Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Christ. It is the ultimate moment of hope for the believer. Jesus overcomes death as the clear promise that we can conquer even death if we follow the Risen Lord. It is truly Good News.
At the same time, that Good News depends on us to be spread and lived throughout the world. We must do what we can to make Good News happen for all in the world as Jesus asked his disciples when he asked them to go “to all nations” (Mt 28:19). No one on the planet can be left out of this proclamation of “glad tidings to the poor” (Lk 4:18), and no one, especially the poorest, should be left out of being reached by those of us who believe.
As we celebrate the Easter season we can spread this great hope that death is conquered to those who face it daily in their poverty. Each of us can share that message by continuing to advocate for poverty focused international aid to congress. It is a simple yet effective way to keep the momentum going to reduce extreme poverty in our day by advocating to eliminate hunger, disease, conflict, and other issues that affect the lives of our brothers and sisters worldwide. It takes but a minute or two to send a message on behalf of our poorest sisters and brothers, but it has a great impact.
Things can be better. Take the time now to share hope. Take the time to help new life reach the whole planet.