Don't overlook the poor in Wall Street bailout, clerics say

NEW YORK -- Religious leaders are warning that the global financial crisis threatens progress made against poverty and world hunger, and urged political leaders not to ignore the poor while debating how to solve the current international financial panic.

"It's a teachable moment to move the agenda of hunger and inequality in the world," said Lorraine Dickerson, an anti-hunger advocate with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. "It's a moral imperative."

Dickerson was one of some 75 religious leaders and representatives who attended a Wednesday (Sept. 24) interfaith consultation on global hunger. The summit parallels a meeting at the United Nations to evaluate progress on a set of development goals adopted by the U.N. in 2000.

While the religious leaders maintained a sense of hope about progress that has been made in fighting poverty, they also expressed frustration about what they saw as a disproportionate amount of money being proposed to bail out U.S. financial institutions.

"The U.S. government can come up with $700 billion for the financial system, but religious communities have been working for decades to stop hunger and poverty for pennies," said Rev. David Beckmann, the president of the Washington-based anti-hunger group Bread for the World.

Like what you're reading? Get free emails from NCR.

World Bank figures indicate that the number of poor people in the world has dropped from 1.9 billion in 1981 to 1.4 billion in 2005. That is proof that one of the key U.N. Millennium Development Goals -- halving extreme poverty from 1990 levels by the year 2015 -- is a possibility, he said.

However, Beckmann added that that success is "now being undercut by higher prices, particularly of food and oil."

The religious leaders said they must now pressure governments and remind their own religious constituents of the moral imperative to keep fighting poverty amid the worsening global economy.

"Religious leaders don't have much political power, but we do have moral influence," said Sr. J. Lora Dambroski, the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg


NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017