By Zahirah Mohammed
Child Friendly Spaces Support Officer, CCSJ/AMMR
“None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice” – Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (EG), The Joy of the Gospel .
Our Catholic faith is a ‘contract’ of our responsibilities and unconditional duties to society. At our baptism, we ‘sign’ this non-negotiable contract.
All social, economic, and cultural systems play a part in contributing to the common good, whether they are through religious obligation or not.
For example, our government, though not religiously appointed, has responsibilities and unconditional duties to the society through their moral obligations as public servants and leaders.
In the same way, we are also called to serve through moral and religious obligations, and our faith.
In recognition of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17, I ask you to answer the call to serve, not only as Catholics, but as human beings.
At times, our faith can shake and waiver, but it is through human solidarity, our shared dignity, that we can make worthwhile contributions to societal needs.
In 2018, a Consultation Report on Multidimensional Poverty in Trinidad, prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Health Economics Unit (HEU) at The University of the West Indies (UWI), listed some interpretations and causes of poverty.
For example: lack of education, drug-use and alcoholism, poor individual and household choices, income deficiency, job instability and unemployment, inherited poverty, and lack of access to key services.
The impacts of these were listed as crime, prostitution, child labour/exploitation, teenage pregnancy, abuse, and inability to access key services like education and healthcare.
Due to the varying levels of poverty, extreme poverty of the working poor, and the multitude of reasons and factors that play a role in the type of poverty some persons experience, the opportunities for taking action to alleviate suffering are even more plentiful.
“Spiritual conversion, the intensity of the love of God and neighbour, zeal for justice and peace, the Gospel meaning of the poor and of poverty, are required of everyone”, says Pope Francis (EG, 201).
In fulfilling our contractual obligations as a Catholic, each of us can contribute to any of the following at an individual or collective level:
I call on the leaders of our nation and leaders of the many organisations in Trinidad and Tobago to play your part in alleviating the suffering of our impoverished brothers and sisters, not just in recognition of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, but every day.
I urge you not to turn away from those who are in need. Their suffering is our suffering, and the smallest act can make the biggest difference.
I leave you with the following words from Pope Francis:
“I fear that these words too may give rise to commentary or discussion with no real practical effect. That being said, I trust in the openness and readiness of all Christians, and I ask you to seek, as a community, creative ways of accepting this renewed call” (EG, 201).
May our faith revolve around works of mercy, and may we strengthen our resolve to promote justice and peace.
SOCIAL JUSTICE QUOTE
FOR THE WEEK
“Within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life.”
–Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee