The Most Reverend George V. Murry, S.J., Ph.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown, released a Pastoral Letter on Poverty, entitled “Who is my neighbor?” on the occasion of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Poverty Awareness Month held each year in January.
In his Pastoral Letter, Bishop Murry writes: “Many of our neighbors, near and far, are crying for help. Poverty remains a reality in our region and in many parts of the world. Those in poverty are our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, trying to get our attention. The Church is especially called upon to recognize our neighbors in need, provide care, and engage the entire community to find solutions that can help them break the cycle of poverty.”
“The Church alone, however” according to Bishop Murry, “cannot solve the problem of poverty. To succeed at first reducing and eventually eliminating poverty everyone must be involved including the private and governmental sectors, along with religious and community agencies, and each one of us individually. We must all care for our neighbors.”
The Pastoral Letter reflects on the Church’s teachings on poverty, while reviewing the lived reality of poverty in the region covered by the Diocese of Youngstown including Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage, Stark and Trumbull counties.
Bishop Murry calls upon all Catholics, and others of good will, to work together to help diminish the effects of poverty through works of charity. He writes, “Our Catholic parishes provide many opportunities to respond to our neighbors in need. Among them are food pantries, hot meals services, monetary assistance, and referrals to Catholic Charities. Other Catholic sponsored social service agencies (e.g., St. Vincent de Paul Society, Beatitude House, Emmanuel Community Care Center, Ursuline HIV/AIDS ministries, Dorothy Day House) focus on helping families with specific needs by providing both immediate and long term assistance. Our Catholic schools continue to invest in the formation and education of low income children and young persons. Our Catholic hospital systems — Humility of Mary Health Partners and the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine — have provided tens of millions of dollars each year in charity care for low income families.”
Even though social services are important, Bishop Murry continues to challenge his readers to engage in works of justice. Bishop Murry writes, “Our faith Tradition challenges us to look at the social structures and policies that influence our society. We are called to work for justice throughout our world. The work of justice, tied to a deeper understanding and practice of the corporal works of mercy, requires that we ask questions including: Why are people poor? Why do they remain poor? Are our governmental policies and business operations promoting the common good, subsidiarity, solidarity and respect for human life?” He lists various ways in which parishes, groups, businesses, families and individuals can become involved in anti-poverty efforts.
For more information, contact Brian R. Corbin, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Services & Health Affairs at the Diocese of Youngstown, at 330-744-8451 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.