Tag Archives: Economic Justice

European Development Days

Lesley-Anne Knight at the EU Development Days conference

By Alain Rodríguez García, Caritas Europa

Lesley-Ann Knight, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis , delivered a speech yesterday during the Opening Session of the 5th edition of the European Development Days that are being hold in Brussels on 6-7 December.

Ms. Knight shared the floor with a series of European and international personalities such as Belgium’s Prime Minister Yves Letterme, European Commission President Joao Manuel Barroso, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Nepal’s Prime Minister Madhav Kumar.

Starting with a clear reminder of Caritas’ preferential option for the poor, Ms. Knight talked about the dire reality in which the have-nots are living across the world. She mentioned the fact that 50% of global migration is composed of women and girls, who face terrible dangers when attempting to reach the dream of a better life. She also reminded the forum that poverty is everywhere, even in the richest of the countries such as the United States, Japan and the European Union (EU). Continue reading

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Valentine’s Day with the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI arriving at the Caritas hostel in Rome. Credit: Caritas/Michelle Hough

Available in French and Spanish

By Michelle Hough, Caritas Internationalis

It’s 8.30am on Valentine’s Day, I’m at Rome’s Termini Station and I’m waiting for the Pope. Working for Caritas is never boring and can sometimes be quite surreal.

This year is European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. Caritas Europa has launched a big campaign called “Zero Poverty”. Bishops around Italy and the whole of Europe are visiting social services projects in their dioceses today to show solidarity with the poor. Pope Benedict, as Bishop of Rome, has come to the Caritas hostel at Termini Station.

I’m in a press enclosure with other Caritas colleagues and journalists and the Pope will come by on the raised walkway any minute. I’m almost 6 feet tall in my heels but we’re far too low to get a good view. I feel a bit like Zacchaeus, the diminutive tax collector out of the bible, he climbed up a tree to get a better view when Jesus walked by. I think about heaving myself up onto the railings so I can get a good photo for the Caritas website, but I might just end up being told off by the Pope’s bodyguards.

Even though it’s purely coincidental that Pope Benedict is visiting the hostel on Valentine’s Day (today is also Saints Cyril and Methodius’ Day for the Church), you could say that love is the theme of the Pope’s visit.

“For Rome, the Caritas hostel is a place where love is not just a word or a feeling, but something concrete, that allows the light of God to enter the lives of the whole community,” says the Pope after he arrives at the hostel. Continue reading

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Filed under Advocacy, Development, Europe, Italy, Poverty Elimination

Caritas Europa launch ‘Zero Poverty’ campaign

Erny Gillen, President of Caritas Europa, and MEP Elisabeth Schroedter during the launch Credit: Caritas Europa

By Marius Wanders, Secretary General, Caritas Europa

The official ‘launch event’ of the Caritas Europa campaign ‘Zero Poverty’ and the official publication of the study paper ‘Poverty Among Us’, both in the context of the European Year 2010 for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, took place very successfully in the European Parliament buildings in Brussels on Wednesday 27 January.

We were a bit overwhelmed by the high turnout of Members of European Parliament, representatives of NGOs and representatives of the press who chose to accept our invitation, so we had a very full room with standing room only for many who showed up. Still, this is much better than having a very large room and nobody showing up

If you click this link you will be able to read a web page article that describes very well what happened at this occasion. We are also enclosing some photographs to illustrate this rather successful event. On the webpage you will also find links to the presentations that were given on this occasion, links to the campaign materials and the study paper ‘Poverty Among Us’ in 3 languages, and of course links to our campaign website Zeropoverty.org

We are already rapidly approaching 500 signatories of our on line petition. However, this is still only a small fraction of what we aim for before the end of 2010: more than one million signatories so that we will meet the requirements of the EU Treaty to submit a Citizen’s Initiative that the EU institutions must then take into account. Still, it is early days yet and we hope that our member organisations will be able to mobilise hundreds of thousands of people to sign up.

Already we have also seen people from other continents sign up (Philippines, Kenya etc.). This is great and it is very welcome support. Then system will allow us to ‘filter’ the signatures from EU member states, but it would be even more impressive if we reach considerably more signatories than our target one million, including many from beyond the borders of Europe. It would only strengthen our message.

So the message to all of you is: please ask your friends and colleagues to sign our on line petition! And ask them to ask their friends and colleagues as well…

Let’s hope that in this year 2010 we can begin to mobilise a vast number of people in the fight against poverty and in achieving a paradigm shift about poverty and social exclusion.

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MDG campaign in 2010

World leaders declared the Millennium Development Goals at the UN in 2000 so that rich and poor governments would unite to eliminate the scourge of poverty and hunger, while implementing concrete sustainable actions across all sectors – basic human needs and environmental concerns.

Caritas has engaged this common framework with a strong sense of our collective responsibility. Amidst recent global crises it remains true, however, that “we still are the first generation that can put an end to poverty, and we refuse to miss this opportunity!”

“The MDGs can be achieved. there are No Excuses; End Poverty Now.”

To kickoff this 2010 MDG YEAR join us in the call to action as the March Against Poverty happens in Lisbon on Monday, January 25th!

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The Church and the exploitation of natural resources

We, members of the Catholic Justice and Peace and Caritas Commissions from Zambia, DR Congo, Uganda, Honduras, Norway, with representation from Caritas Africa Regional Secretariat and Catholic Relief Services, met in the mining town of Chingola, Zambia on 10 -14 November 2009, to discuss the role of the Church in popular mobilisation for just exploitation of natural resources for the common good.
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G8 and climate change

By Pascale Palmer, guest blogger from Caritas England and Wales (CAFOD)

I stood 30 feet from President Barack Obama yesterday. It’s the first time in my life that when someone (I didn’t know personally) entered the room, I felt the right thing to do was stand up and cheer. Luckily CAFOD’s head of policy stopped me, but I was nearly on my feet.

At the press conference he was joined on the podium by Prime Minister Berlusconi, then Kevin Rudd of Australia and finally a small huddle including Japan, France and the UK. Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, was looking jolly despite the heat and hours of negotiation on climate change.
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G8: La bella Italia

The right approach

The right approach

The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is the premier of a gob-smackingly beautiful country. In fact it is well beyond beautiful in parts – it is that awe-inspiring notion of the sublime where man is swallowed up by the immensity of mountain and alluvial plain, and senses his smallness, the presence of God, his place in nature.
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