Julio Beamonte, the director of Catholic charity Caritas in Madrid, warned that current poverty levels in Spain are rivaling those experienced in post-World War II Europe.
At June 5 press conference on the work of Caritas during 2011, Beamonte said Spain is going through an economic situation similar to what it went through “60 years ago.”
The crisis is the worst the country has faced in over 40 years, he said.
Beamonte noted that last year Caritas Madrid helped more than 118,000 people and distributed almost 24 million euros in aid. In addition, the more than 7,000 Caritas volunteers helped to distribute 5.6 million euros in parishes across the country.
Asked about the demands being made by some that the Church no longer be exempt from the IBI real estate and property tax, Beamonte said the law should be followed on this matter and pointed to the gospel passage which reads: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
He went on to note that in 2011, 14,000 emergency aid packages were distributed, 600 families were kept in their homes, 1,187 aid packages were given to the unemployed, and 2,242 persons were helped to find a job.
Beamonte said the profile of those receiving aid from Caritas has evolved in recent years, and that now more young people are requesting assistance, as well as more men, more single parent families and more native born Spaniards who hide their economic difficulties out of embarrassment.
“These numbers represent poverty, but there is another side to this which is hope,” he continued, noting that Caritas has seen an increase in volunteers this year and in donations.
Beamonte said the current crisis facing Spain would be long, and he pointed out that the Diocesan Emergency Fund would have to receive an injection of an additional one million euros for the second half of the year in order to help those in need.