Lazarus at our Gate

A critical moment in the fight against world poverty - Social Justice Statement 2013

Before I came here, I knew that people in most other countries were a lot poorer than us in Australian and New Zealand. But being here now as a pilgrim in these Columban parishes in poor areas of Chile, has really opened my eyes to the way most people in the world live.
Families here live with so much less material comfort. They live in overcrowded small spaces, with job insecurity, poor labour conditions and scarce educational and health opportunities.

"I can now see my country, Australia, in a new light, looking at it from the perspective of other nations and how we compare.

I think it is important for us to be less materialistic, less worried about consumerism and more concerned about the millions of families living in poverty in the nations around us."

This testimony was given by one of the World Youth Day Pilgrims during her Columban Mission Experience in Chile as a result of her first-hand encounter with poverty there. It was a sentiment shared by all pilgrims.

The fight against world poverty is the theme for Social Justice Sunday this year in Australia. In their Statement the Catholic Bishops of Australia call on Australians to renew our fight against poverty both in our region and globally. The Social Justice Statement will be launched in mid-September in time for parishes, schools and other groups to prepare for Social Justice Sunday on September 29.

According to the Bishops, a billion people around the world live in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.25 per day. Twenty percent of the world's poorest people live in countries near Australia. This means that in our region, Australia is the rich man and Lazarus is at our gate. This refers to the parable in the Gospel of Luke, 16:19-31, the Gospel reading for Social Justice Sunday.

The Bishop's Statement specifies five groups that particularly need our support. They are: people who face severe hunger; people who are victims of disaster; Indigenous peoples; people with disabilities, refugees and displaced people.

Columban Missionaries in many countries across the globe live amongst the poor and work with all these groups. Just to name a few instances:
* They can be found supporting victims of earthquakes, cyclones and floods in Pakistan, Fiji, the Philippines, Chile and Peru.
* They run or support Centres for the disabled in Peru, the Philippines and Korea.
* They work with Indigenous peoples in the Philippines, Myanmar, Pakistan, Chile and Peru.  
* They are involved in advocacy work for refugees, displaced persons and in the fight against poverty in Australia, Britain, Ireland and the  
  United States.

Columban Fr Dan Harding reflects on the Catholic Bishops of Australia - Social Justice Statement 2013.

Walk Alongside: Meaningful work for the young worker
This year’s Social Justice Week in New Zealand from September 8-14 focuses on meaningful work for young people in an age of unemployment or uncertain work.

Almost 45% of those currently seeking work in New Zealand are aged 15-24.

New Zealand Bishops' Initiative
The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference initiated Social Justice Week in 1997, with Caritas responsible for promoting it to the Catholic community and beyond.

Getting an education doesn’t guarantee a job. While it is difficult to find stable employment, let us not lose hope!

Read more from The Far East, September 2013

Comments (1)

  1. Lu:
    Jan 09, 2014 at 01:26 AM

    "compassion...going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there." Am always thankful to God for missioners who, like Him, live among us. God bless all missionaries!


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