More than 30 leaders from major world religions and heads of global faith-based organizations, including Catholic Relief Services, launched on April 9 a clarion call to action to end extreme poverty by 2030, a goal shared by the World Bank Group.
Ending Extreme Poverty: A Moral and Spiritual Imperative notes that remarkable progress has been made in reducing extreme poverty. In the last 25 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined from nearly 2 billion people to fewer than 1 billion. Now, for the first time in human history the capacity and moral responsibility exists so no one has to live in extreme poverty’s grip.
“We have ample evidence from the World Bank Group and others showing that we can now end extreme poverty within fifteen years,” the Moral Imperative statement notes. “In 2015, our governments will be deciding upon a new global sustainable development agenda that has the potential to build on our shared values to finish the urgent task of ending extreme poverty.”
“We in the faith community embrace this moral imperative because we share the belief that the moral test of our society is how the weakest and most vulnerable are faring. Our sacred texts also call us to combat injustice and uplift the poorest in our midst.”
The Moral Imperative statement seeks to generate the necessary social and political will and inspire greater commitments from others to join in this cause. It taps into shared convictions and beliefs that unify the world’s major religions around the call and responsibility to combat poverty.
The statement arose from the World Bank’s “Faith Based and Religious Leaders Roundtable” held on February 18, the first high-level meeting between World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and faith leaders.
According to Bill O’Keefe, Vice President for Advocacy and Government Relations at Catholic Relief Services, “We believe that ending extreme poverty is practically possible and morally imperative. Through our work in almost 100 countries, we are committed to reaching over 150 million of the most vulnerable people by 2018. We are also committed to engaging 10 million people in our own country to act against global poverty. We are proud to join in this comprehensive effort to end extreme poverty.”
“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.” (Pope Francis, Meeting with Students of Jesuit Schools—Q & A, 6/7/13)
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit crs.org or crsespanol.org and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, Twitter at @CatholicRelief and @CRSnews, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube.