Billionaires Versus Starving Children

Some strong contrasts emerged in the latest report published by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican Press reported. “This is a world where about 300 children die every hour from malnutrition and where nearly a billion people have no access to clean water. At the same time, there are over 1200 billionaires in the world, the highest number ever recorded,” said Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa and President of Caritas Internationalis in the organisation’s annual report.

“We are scandalized that millions of our brothers and sisters live in extreme poverty in a world of riches. But we are filled with hope because we are the first generation with the tools to change the system that keeps them poor,” Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga stated. The main action fronts in 2012 were: Africa, where the hungry needed to be fed; Syria, where refugees had to be supplied with warm clothing and earthquake-stricken Haiti, where new homes needed to be built. “Providing aid is not enough. We must break the cycle of poverty,” the cardinal said. “Our greatest challenge is not poverty or the economic crisis. It’s the growth of secularism in many parts of the world, especially in the richest. When people do not believe in God, individualism triumphs over community and we lose sight of our ethical principles. Only through living the truth of the word of God can we overcome the spiritual poverty of our age and build a fraternal world in which we live united as brothers and sisters in peace,” the cardinal concluded.

The report shows an increase in emergencies throughout the world, especially war and natural disaster-related emergencies. Caritas launched as many as 44 appeals to gather support from across the world for 34 countries facing various emergencies. Some of the more prominent cases studied for the 2012 report, included West Africa’s Sahel region which was struck by a drought that devastated crops and killed livestock, leading to mass starvation. 61% of these appeals were covered, meaning over 3 and a half million people benefited from humanitarian aid. Over 39 million dollars were allocated to humanitarian programs and 35 national Caritas organisations provided financial, technical or in-kind support through the appeals.

Caritas Internationalis groups together 165 national Caritas organisations and coordinates interventions in emergency and crisis situations. In 2004 Caritas Internationalis was granted public canonical juridical status because of the active exercise of charity performed by national and diocesan Caritas organisations, as official bodies of local bishops’ conferences, and in acknowledgement of the ecclesial role performed by this well-deserving Confederation.

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