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Archive for the ‘Catholics Confront Global Poverty’ Category

Beyond the middle class: Remembering those in poverty

In these last weeks of campaigning we keep hearing about the middle class. Certainly the concerns of the middle class are worthy and deserve the time and consideration of candidates. But what about those in poverty?

 U.S. Human Rights Network is working to bring a focus to a growing group of Americans who have been erased in the campaign for the White House. See below to learn more about their initiative and groups working to help folks in poverty…

In commemoration of the 64th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, the U.S. Human Rights Network launched a campaign to highlight the important human rights work that our members and partners are engaged in domestically. In the 64 days leading up to December 10, otherwise known as Human Rights Day, the USHRN is highlighting 64 member and partner organizations as a way to raise awareness about the domestic human rights movement. For this week, when the United Nations recognizes October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we are featuring six organizations working with low-income communities, fighting against poverty, and challenging structural inequality. To round out the week, we also feature the important work being done at ColumbiaLawSchool’s Human Rights Institute, and the role it plays in the domestic human rights movement. Poverty is a deprivation of the full range of our economic human rights.


GENOCIDE Project South’s mission is to build the foundation for successful broad-based social justice movements. Project South works directly with communities pushed forward by conditions of poverty and racism in order to strengthen leadership for community organizing on critical frontlines of economic, racial, and social justice. Project South increases the number of skilled organizers in the South, creates space for leadership to converge and strategize for movement building, and produces cutting edge political education that reaches a national audience in order to provide direction for long-term movement organizing.Read more.POVERTY & RACE RESEARCH ACTION COUNCILThe Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) is a civil rights policy organization with a mission of connecting advocates to social scientists working on race and poverty issues and promoting a research-based advocacy strategy on structural inequality issues.  At the present time, PRRAC is pursuing project-specific work in the areas of housing, education, and health, focusing on the importance of “place” and the continuing consequences of historical patterns of housing segregation and development for low income families in the areas of health, education, employment, and incarceration. PRRAC’s work is informed by an extensive national network of researchers, organizers, attorneys, educators, and public health and housing professionals.Read more. SOUTHWEST GEORGIA PROJECT FORCOMMUNITY EDUCATION, INC.

The Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education, Inc. (SWGAP) seeks to empower rural communities to work for change through education, advocacy, and economic development. It originally began in 1961 as a project of the Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) when SNCC sent student Charles Sherrod to engage residents and coordinate activities for the Civil Rights Movement. In 1971 Charles Sherrod and his wife Shirley Miller founded the organization to continue the work of empowering black families in Southwest Georgia. Throughout its history, the organization has been an advocate for social justice through grassroots social community organizing among adults and youth, to register and educate voters, organize local advocacy groups, create jobs through the establishment of cooperative business and foods based businesses, and strengthen academic and leadership skills among youth.

Read more.

THE POVERTY INITIATIVE The Poverty Initiative’s mission is to raise up generations of religious and community leaders committed to building a movement to end poverty, led by the poor.Economic disparity and poverty are increasing around the globe.  By bringing an historical, political and economic perspective to these defining issues of our time, the Poverty Initiative deepens the way that activists, organizers, students, academics, clergy and the poor come together to think critically and act persistently to end poverty.  With its rigorous approach to leadership development and its immersive, boundary-crossing, and comprehensive programs, the Poverty Initiative creates the space where leaders can learn to “think as we fight,” learn as we lead,” and “educate as we organize.”Read more.MICHIGAN WELFARE RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONThe Michigan Welfare Rights Organization is the union of public assistance recipients and low-income workers in Michigan. MWRO has chapters across Michigan and is one of the founding members of the National Welfare Rights Union. MWRO’s goal is to organize recipients and low-income workers to fight for our rights, to eliminate poverty in this country and to build an army prepared to battle for the economic and human rights of millions of disenfranchised Americans.

Read more.


The Georgia Citizens’ Coalition on Hunger was founded in 1974 as a statewide coalition of concerned citizens to end hunger, homelessness and poverty in the state of Georgia. The Coalition has been at the forefront of grassroots organizing, service delivery and policy changes that positively impact poor and working class communities in Georgia for over 35 years. The Coalition operates a food pantry, community garden and four outdoor farmers markets while also engaging in grassroots organizing, public education and leadership development so that low income citizens can address their concerns around food and economic security.

Read more.

HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTE – COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOLThe Human Rights Institute sits at the heart of human rights teaching, practice and scholarship at Columbia Law School.  Founded in 1998 by the late Professor Louis Henkin, the Institute draws on the law school’s deep human rights tradition to support and influence human rights practice in the United States and throughout the world.  Over the past several years, the Institute and the Human Rights Clinic have become increasingly integrated, enabling it to multiply their impact on the field and engage students more fully in their work.HRI currently focuses its work in three main substantive areas: Human Rights in the United States; Counterterrorism & Human Rights; and Human Rights & the Global Economy.  HRI has developed distinct approaches to work in each area, building bridges between scholarship and activism, developing capacity within the legal community, engaging governments, and modeling new strategies for progress.Read more.

The budget goes global

We are hearing much fly through the air these days about our domestic budget. What will be cut, kept and even increased is a labyrinth of values that right now range from conservative to very conservative.  This is an important conversation and there is much at risk right now including affordable housing and public broadcasting.

What it seems we are not hearing are the voices of those who will be impacted and the voices of people around the world who already live in poverty due to many of the economic choices industrialized countries make. The video below pulls back the lens a little bit and looks at what is happening globally with poverty and where our real hope may lie. Join Vandana Shiva in exploring what a real domestic budget that links to a global economy may need to consider.

Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia, Apr. 18-19

Yesterday we mentioned that Liz is in Colombia. Since then this action alert came across our desk from our friends at Catholics Confront Global Poverty. With Liz where she is, we thought it was very timely to share with you.


Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia:
Urge Congress to evaluate and refocus U.S. policy and assistance to Colombia


Contact your members of Congress (click the link and scroll down the page) during the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia April 18-19 and urge them to:
1. Prioritize social and humanitarian aid for Colombian refugees and displaced persons; and
2. Decrease and redirect the disproportionate emphasis on military assistance for Colombia to give greater priority to the humanitarian needs of the conflict’s victims.

WHAT IS THE SITUATION IN COLOMBIA? Four decades of conflict deeply rooted in social and economic exclusion has relegated Colombia second only to Sudan as the country with the highest number of forcibly displaced persons within its borders according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. Over 4 million people–or close to 10 per cent of the population-have been forcibly displaced within the country, and hundreds of thousands of Colombians have become refugees in neighboring countries. Colombia also suffers high rates of forced disappearances, threats and violence directed at rural communities and human rights defenders, and a largely hidden epidemic of gender-based violence.

HOW HAS THE U.S. RESPONDED? The United States has provided significant counternarcotics, military and social assistance to Colombia over the past decade. Despite some noteworthy advances in security, other issues such as internal displacement and refugee flows, widespread threats and targeted assassinations continue at an alarming rate.  The Obama Administration and Congress have a significant opportunity at this moment to thoroughly evaluate and refocus U.S. policy and aid to Colombia: to prioritize the needs of the victims of the conflict, strengthen human rights protections, and support the foundations of a sustainable resolution to the current conflict.

WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH URGE THE U.S. TO DO?  The Colombian Catholic Bishops Conference, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) agree that the United States can make a signifanct contribution to ending the violent conflict in Colombia and assisting affected communities. We urge the United States Congress to:
1. Prioritize social assistance and humanitarian aid for Colombian refugees and displaced persons by:
– Ensuring aid for the internally displaced in Colombia is maintained at FY 2010 levels and includes funding to prevent displacement and protect the rights of the displaced. 
– Restoring funding for Colombian refugees and the Western Hemisphere in the Migration and Refugee Account that was cut by the Administration’s FY 2011 budget request to at least 2010 levels.
– Passing House Resolution 1224 that promotes the protection of the indigenous, Afro-Colombian and women who have been forcibly displaced.  
2. Decrease and redirect the disproportionate emphasis on military aid to Colombia.  After 11 years of military funding for Colombia, in what was intended to be a five year plan, it is time for the U.S. to significantly phase down military aid and give greater priority to the humanitarian needs of the victims of the conflict in Colombia.  
3. Adopt trade policies that promote sustainable development in Colombia. Any trade agreement with Colombia should include, among other important mechanisms to minimize losses, protections for small farmers. Without such protections, the loss of rural livelihoods is likely to push farmers towards illicit crops, increase the number of displaced persons, and deepen the conflict.

WHAT DOES THE CONFLICT IN COLOMBIA HAVE TO DO WITH MY FAITH? The Catholic Church’s social teaching is rooted in the sacredness and fundamental dignity of every human life.  We are called to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need throughout the world because we are all part of one human family. Good stewardship of our resources urges us to assist those most vulnerable, particularly refugees and internally displaced people as well as to promote policies that prevent further displacement and poverty. 

HOW IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SUPPORTING PEACE IN COLOMBIA?  The Colombian Catholic Church, USCCB, and CRS are working to promote peace and reconciliation in Colombia while providing assistance to the people who need it most–the displaced, the victims of violence and the poor.  We also promote policies that can bring about a just and sustainable peace.

Take action!

Catholics Confront Global Poverty webcast

With Liz in Colombia this week, we’ll use this space to share a webcast invitation from our friends at Catholics Confront Global Poverty (the webcast is tomorrow, April 14).

Please join Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for a Catholics Confront Global Poverty webcast:
Extracting Natural Resources with People in Mind:
Addressing Root Causes of Conflict and Poverty
Olun Kamitatu – Regional Technical Advisor, Extractive Industries, Central Africa Region/Catholic Relief Services (in Kinshasa, DRC),
Rev. Juan Molina, O.SS.T. – Latin America and Global Trade Policy Advisor, Office of International Justice and Peace, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Rees Warne – Strategic Issues Advisor, Extractives Industries, Catholic Relief Services/USA
Wednesday, April 14
2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time
RSVP now! 

This Catholics Confront Global Poverty webcast will explore issues around the extraction of natural resources in the developing world such as the links between minerals and conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We will examine the Church’s approach to natural resource extraction and discuss concrete ways for Catholics in the United States to have a real impact in helping people around the world ensure that their oil, minerals and other natural resources can fuel development.
This webcast will provide:
1. An on-the-ground view from a CRS staff person working with people affected by the extraction of natural resources ;
2. An overview of CRS’ response and support for the people who live there;
3. USCCB and CRS’ policy recommendations for how U.S. policymakers can make a difference on these issues based on Catholic social teaching and our experience;
4. Ideas on how Catholics in the U.S., through the Catholics Confront Global 5. Poverty initiative, can support greater transparency; in natural resources extraction in the developing world;
6. An opportunity to ask the presenters questions about these issues and engage them in dialogue.

RSVP now

Helping poor countries get back on their feet

We pass this along from our friends at Catholics Confront Global Poverty …

How can we confront global poverty?

Get wealthy nations to cancel debt payments so that poor countries can get back on their feet.

Meet Aurelie Nyapeye Yatchou, a community forest manager for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Cameroon. Cameroon suffers a high rate of underdevelopment, despite the presence of rich natural resources. Many forests in Cameroon and other developing countries have historically been exploited by logging companies and other large industries with little compensation for local communities.

Due to debt forgiveness and the work of CRS, many forest communities in Cameroon have been able to see a real improvement in the quality of life in their communities. In 2006, funds that were saved through the forgiveness of Cameroon’s debt were approved to be redirected into a new community forest management program run by CRS. This poverty reduction program now helps the forest communities that Aurelie manages improve their quality of life by managing, harvesting and selling valuable forest products such as wood, bark, leaves and seeds.

Since the wide-scale movement to cancel the debt of developing countries began in 1999, a great deal of progress has been made. The Jubilee USA Network reports that since the latest round of debt cancellation in 2006, more than $40 billion in debts in 21 countries in Africa and Latin America have been cancelled. Meanwhile total spending for education, health and other poverty-reducing investments in the countries receiving debt relief has increased substantially over the last decade.

But there is one remaining step to be taken: extending debt cancellation to all poor countries that need it and can show that they will use the savings for poverty reduction.

That’s why Catholics Confront Global Povertyis calling upon 1 million Catholics to urge the United States and international financial institutions such as the World Bank to cancel the debt of needy poor countries that have been left out of existing debt relief programs.

Here are three things you can do this week to confront global poverty:

Learn more about how completing debt forgiveness will help end global poverty.

Let your Facebook, MySpace, or other networks know about Catholics Confront Global Poverty.

Send this card to your friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, classmates, fellow parishioners and others and invite them to become one in a million confronting global poverty. Make it your personal goal to recruit five new members this week.

Thanks. You’re one in a million!

Global Security Priorities resolution: take action now

We’re passing this action alert to you  from our partners at Catholics Confront Global Poverty. Take action!

Visit the Action Center and urge your member of Congress, especially those on the Foreign Affairs, Rules, and Armed Services Committees, to co-sponsor the bipartisan “Global Security Priorities” Resolution, H. Res. 278, introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). H. Res. 278 currently has 15 co-sponsors, 10 short of the 25 needed to move it out of committee. Please make sure that your member of Congress becomes a co-sponsor today.

WHY IS THE GLOBAL SECURITY PRIORITIES RESOLUTON IMPORTANT? H. Res. 278 does two things: Addresses the threat of international terrorism and protects the security of the United States by reducing the number of and access to nuclear weapons and preventing their proliferation. H. Res. 278 urges the President to continue negotiations to further reduce nuclear arms to minimal levels, to have the U.S. and Russia agree to cut the number of deployed nuclear weapons, to assist other countries in reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons throughout the world, and to expand efforts to prevent terrorists from gaining access to nuclear materials. Directs a portion of the resulting $13 billion saved annually towards child survival, food security, and universal education. H. Res. 278 requests $5 billion over five years to enhance global child survival through new high-impact and low-cost health and nutrition interventions at the community level, and an additional $1.5 billion annually over five years for existing programs that reduce child hunger and increase child nutrition and educational opportunities. These added resources would enable organizations such as Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to strengthen food security programs with local partners in poor countries by boosting long–term food security and life-saving emergency aid. Support for H. Res. 278 is very timely in light of recent statements by President Obama who has called for substantial verifiable reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, and has committed the U.S. to new leadership to reduce global poverty by doubling international assistance. At the same time, Iranian and North Korean nuclear ambitions and growing poverty and hunger due to the economic crisis call for immediate action.

WHY DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SUPPORT H. RES. 278? The U.S. bishops have long supported the dismantling of nuclear weapons systems, the effective securing of nuclear materials from terrorists, and a reduction in the overall number of nuclear armaments. Church teaching supports preventing proliferation of these horrific weapons and ultimately eliminating them. The “Global Security Priorities” Resolution, H. Res. 278, embraces these goals and takes important steps in this direction. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and CRS recognize that if we want peace, we must work for justice. Howard J. Hubbard, Bishop of Albany and Chair of the International Justice and Peace Committee of the USCCB noted in a recent letter to members of the House that Pope Benedict XVI has linked disarmament and development. In his January 1 message for the 2009 World Day of Peace, the Holy Father recommended that “resources saved [by reducing expenditures on arms] could then be earmarked for development projects to assist the poorest and most needy individuals and peoples.”

For more information contact: Dr. Stephen Colecchi, Director, International Justice and Peace, USCCB, scolecchi@usccb.org, (202) 541-3196 Tina Rodousakis, Manager, Grassroots Advocacy, CRS, trodousa@crs.org, (410) 951-7462

Catholics Confront Global Poverty is an initiative by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services.

FSPA partners with Catholics Confront Global Poverty

We’re excited to tell you about our new partnership with Catholics Confront Global Poverty (an action alert is below). The FSPA Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation committee decided to partner with this organization to contribute to the work of confronting the challenge of global poverty.

The initiative  is a partnership between the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services and is inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 World Day of Peace Message: Fight Poverty to Build Peace.

This initiative aims to mobilize one million Catholics in the U.S. to confront global poverty by defending the life and dignity of people living in poverty throughout the world. It focuses on seven key areas:

  • U.S. international assistance
  • peacekeeping
  • debt relief
  • fair trade
  • natural resource extraction
  • migration
  • global climate change

This effort provides a way for Catholics to confront these poverty issues by praying, learning, acting and giving.

Here’s an action alert from our friends at Catholics Confront Global Poverty:

Tell Senators on Key Committees: 

Protect the Poor in Climate Legislation
Take Action Now! Contact your Senator now and urge that the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733, the climate change bill) now being considered:
Fully protect low-income individuals and families in the U.S. from any potential rise in the price of energy and other consumer goods resulting from the legislation by providing the same level of funding for low-income assistance as in the House bill;
Significantly increase the funding for international adaptation programs. At a minimum allocate $3.5 billion of funding generated by the bill to international adaptation programs starting in 2012 and increase rapidly to $7 billion annually by 2020 so that people living in poverty around the world can be protected from the effects of climate change.

Why is action important now?

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will likely vote on this climate change legislation this week. This begins a serious and overdue effort to face up to our moral and environmental challenges.

What is the Church’s position?

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) seek climate legislation that achieves two fundamental goals: care for creation and protecting the poor and vulnerable—both at home and abroad—who contribute least to climate change, but suffer its worst consequences. While we are encouraged by language in the Kerry-Boxer bill acknowledging the need to protect poor people worldwide, we are deeply concerned that the level of funding for these provisions is well below what is needed.

What does climate change have to do with my Catholic faith?

The Catholic Church brings a unique voice to the climate change debate by lifting up both the moral dimensions of caring for God’s creation and the needs of the most vulnerable among us. The Catholic bishops’ primary concern is to place the life, dignity and needs of the poor and vulnerable at the center of climate legislation. Poor people should not bear an undue burden of the impacts of climate change or the global adjustments needed to address it. To learn about Catholic teaching on climate change, read the June 2001 statement by the United States Catholic Bishops, Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good.

How is the Catholic Church confronting the effects of climate change?

The Church promotes prudent action in the face of the growing impacts of global climate change and is seeking common ground for the common good in a very polarized debate. CRS has already witnessed the tragic consequences of climate change in the daily lives of people living in poverty and is working diligently to help affected communities through health, agriculture, water, and emergency preparedness programs in 100 countries. USCCB, CCUSA and CRS are members of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change that invites Catholics to join the Catholic Climate Covenant. Through the Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative, USCCB and CRS are mobilizing one million Catholics to learn, pray and act in support of policies that will help address the effects of climate change on poor people worldwide.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Contact your Senators below who are members of the Environment and Public Works, Foreign Relations and Finance Committees now – through e-mail, phone calls, or FAX letters.
John Kerry, MA (sponsor)
Barbara Boxer, CA (sponsor)
Richard Lugar, IN
Benjamin Cardin, MD
Joseph Lieberman, CT
Max Baucus, MT
Thomas R. Carper, DE
Frank R. Lautenberg, NJ
Bernard Sanders, VT
Amy Klobuchar, MN Sheldon Whitehouse, RI
Tom Udall, NM
Jeff Merkley, OR
Kirsten Gillibrand, NY
Arlen Specter, PA
George Voinovich, OH
Lamar Alexander, TN
Robert Menendez, NJ
Bob Casey, PA
For more information, contact:
Cecilia Calvo, USCCB Environmental Justice Program Coordinator: 202-541-3188, ccalvo@usccb.org
Tina Rodousakis, CRS Grassroots Advocacy Manager: 410-951-7462, trodousa@crs.org
Monica Maggiano, CCUSA Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America Director: 703-236-6230, mmaggiano@catholiccharities.org

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