.- Bishops and other Catholic clergy should speak about unemployment and poverty in their homilies, U.S. bishopsâ conference president Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan said on Monday.
âWidespread unemployment, underemployment and pervasive poverty are diminishing human lives, undermining human dignity, and hurting children and families,â Archbishop Dolan said. âI 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.â
The Archbishop of New York said that 46 million people, 15 percent of the population, now live in poverty in the U.S. Recent unemployment figures are also âdismal.â Sixteen million children, almost one in four, are growing up in poverty. African-Americans and Hispanics face unemployment and poverty at âfar higher rates.â
âFor us as bishops, these numbers are not statistics, but people suffering and wounded in their human dignity,â Archbishop Dolan said. âThey are parents who cannot feed their children, families that have lost their homes and jobless workers who have lost not only income, but also a sense of their place in society. For us, each of these persons is a child of God with innate human dignity and rights that deserve respect.â
Economic turmoil takes a âterrible tollâ on families and communities and Catholic dioceses are struggling to meet needs.
Rather than issuing another statement, Archbishop Dolan said, the administrative committee of the bishopsâ conference wanted him to ask all the bishops to âlift up the human, moral and spiritual dimensions of the ongoing economic crisis.â
âThe best way out of poverty is to work at a living wage,â the archbishop said. Rather than place blame, everyone should accept their personal and institutional responsibility to help create jobs and overcome poverty.
âIndividuals 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.â
Archbishop Dolan pledged the Churchâs solidarity with those who are poor and jobless and help for leaders who assist the poor and jobless by promoting economic growth and fiscal responsibility.
âIn these tough economic times, we turn to the God who loves us. We pray for those who need work. We lift up the poor and suffering. We ask God's guidance for our nation,â he said, calling the present âa time for faith, hope and love.â
Archbishop Dolan noted some helpful materials already exist on the U.S. bishopsâ conference website at http://www.usccb.org/about/justice-peace-and-human-development/unemployement-and-poverty.cfm.