Indiana’s five Catholic bishops this week issued a new pastoral letter on poverty inviting and challenging Catholics in the state to make the needs of the poor a priority and to take action to reduce the effects of poverty. The letter has its origins in a meeting hosted and sponsored by the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns two years ago.
The Indiana Catholic Poverty Summit met at Notre Dame in April 2013, bringing the bishops together with social service providers from health care and educational institutions and Catholic religious orders across the state for a day-long conference to explore and recommend new initiatives to reduce poverty and alleviate the suffering it causes.
The letter, “Poverty at the Crossroads: The Church’s Response to Poverty in Indiana,” was signed by Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis and Bishops Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Donald J. Hying of Gary, Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend and Charles C. Thompson of Evansville.
According to a 2015 report from the Indiana Institute for Working Families, more than 1 million state residents are living in poverty, defined as at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
Noting that “all disciples of Jesus Christ are called to love the poor as He did,” the bishops said that they “invite and challenge everyone, beginning with ourselves, to be more attentive to the poor in our communities, to identify the systemic issues that keep individuals and families poor, and to take concrete steps to reduce the long-term impact of poverty in our state, even as we reach out and help those who, here and now, suffer from its devastating effects.”
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