Responsibility for eradicating issues of poverty belongs to us all
Every once in a while, there are some practical things I feel moved to talk to you about. This is one of those times.
First of all, if you haven’t heard, our state bishops – Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis, Bishop Donald J. Hying, as well as Bishop Emeritus Dale J. Melczek, Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Bishop Charles C. Thompson of Evansville and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend – have written a pastoral letter, “Poverty at the Crossroads: The Church’s Response to Poverty in Indiana.”
According to the Indiana Institute for Working Families, ovcr 1 million Hoosiers now live in poverty. That includes 22 percent of children in our state – approximately one in five.
If that doesn’t shock you, I would challenge you to ask yourself, why not?
Addressing Jesuit students in 2013, Pope Francis is quoted as saying, “The times talk to us of so much poverty in the world and this is a scandal. Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry.”
By the grace of God, a goodly number of us always have food on our tables, roofs over our heads and jobs to provide for our families. Many do not and suffer the consequences.
Growing poverty in our communities is not merely the problem of those who suffer; it’s the concern and responsibility of all who dare to call themselves Christian. The fact is, the face of poverty has changed and is no longer recognizable as only those we once relegated to the shadows and margins of our society.
Poverty today could very well be wrapping itself around a neighbor, a family member or co-worker. It could have in its grip the child who sits next to your son or daughter at school.
While we might feel powerless to tackle the issue of poverty on a global level, each can begin to address and remedy this scourge in our own state, our own communities. This is a chance to do more than sit by, wringing our collective hands, wishing that someone should do something. We are the “someone,” and our Indiana bishops have given us a starting point.
To that end, Bishop Hying has asked that the faithful of our diocese by deanery (see the schedule on page 3 of today’s paper) and begin the discussion. The goal will be to determine concrete and actionable steps we can take back to our parishes and organizations…ways we all might become the face and hands of Jesus to those in need.
To read Poverty at the Crossroads, go to nwicatholic.com or dcgary.org.
Second, throughout the summer, in fact, throughout the year, many of our parishes work long and hard to offer festivals, dinners, picnics and other social events to its members, as well as communities. Why bother, you might ask? Isn’t going to church on Sunday enough?
If that’s how you feel, I suggest you are missing out on so much. Viewing church as only a place to go to Mass on Sunday is so shortsighted and so not what Jesus intended. Everything we do should speak to the value of community; our Eucharistic liturgy – our Mass – speaks profoundly of Christ’s intention of community. So why wouldn’t we take advantage of the many spiritual, educational and yes, social activities designed to strengthen those communal bonds?
These are the people with whom we share a powerful commonality of faith – our faith family. If you haven’t participated in one of your parish’s activities or events, start with one that holds an interest for you. Try it! You will find many there who will be very happy to see you.