March 13, 2015

In pastoral letter, Indiana bishops say needs of poor must be a priority

Criterion staff report

Poverty letter logoThe five Catholic bishops in Indiana have issued a pastoral letter on poverty inviting and challenging people in the state to make the needs of the poor a priority, and to take action to reduce the effects of poverty.

The letter, titled “Poverty at the Crossroads: The Church’s Response to Poverty in Indiana,” is signed by Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, Lafayette Bishop Timothy L. Doherty, Gary Bishop Donald J. Hying, Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and Evansville Bishop Charles C. Thompson. (Spanish version here)

The bishops noted in the introduction to the pastoral letter that they are called to carry on Christ’s work in service to all people, but that they have a particular obligation to care for the most vulnerable members of God’s family, especially the poor.

“Using the simple formula of SEE, JUDGE, ACT, we 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,” the bishops wrote.

A record 1,015,127 Indiana residents are living in poverty (at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level), according to the The Status of Working Families in Indiana, 2015 Report by the Indiana Institute for Working Families.

The bishops said it is their hope that Catholics throughout the state will read the pastoral letter, reflect on it and help the bishops consider how the Church should respond. The letter contains several questions for reflection. The bishops are also asking people to take part in a survey to gather more information they will use to further address the issue of poverty in Indiana.

The survey can be found in English at www.archindy.org/povertysurvey, and in Spanish at www.archindy.org/povertysurveyspanish.

“Such reflection is crucial for our mission in the world today,” the bishops wrote. “Pope Francis invites us to see the profound connection between evangelization and human advancement, which must necessarily find expression and develop in every effort of evangelization [“The Joy of the Gospel,” #178].

“We look forward to working with you to proclaim the Good News by strengthening family life, promoting just employment and ensuring a quality education and comprehensive health care for all Hoosiers, especially the poor and vulnerable.” †

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