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Goal 1 – No Poverty
End Poverty in all its forms everywhere.
Summary: While extreme poverty has diminished since 1990, the United Nations reports that 11% of the world’s population (nearly 800 million people) still live on less than $1.25 per day and without basic social protection systems. Poverty is an ongoing, daily Way of the Cross for so many women and men, children and elderly, disabled and infirm. May our love and thirst for justice lead us to become a compassionate presence that eases their passion and restores dignity.
Reflection question: How might I live out of the virtue of enough so that others might have what they need?
Learn more about the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Even with the easing of extreme poverty, pockets of the worst forms of poverty persist. Ending poverty requires universal social protection systems aimed at safeguarding all individuals throughout the life cycle. It also requires specific measures to reduce vulnerability to disasters and to address underserved geographic areas within each country.
- 783 million people live below the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day.
- In 2016, almost 10 per cent of the world’s workers live with their families on less than US$1.90 per person per day.
- Most people living below the poverty line belong to two regions: Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
- High poverty rates are often found in small, fragile and conflict-affected countries.
- As of 2016, only 45% of the world’s population were effectively covered by at least one social protection cash benefit.
- Climate change and natural disasters play a current and future role in poverty issues worldwide. In 2017, economic losses due to disasters, including three major hurricanes in the USA and the Caribbean, were estimated at over $300 billion.
- A majority of poor persons around the globe live in rural areas. They are often employed in agriculture and have an inadequate education.
- Every day about 22,000 children die because of conditions due to poverty. Poverty increases the threat of violence and exploitation towards children. When families move out of poverty, children’s health and well-being improve.
- Poverty is not an issue that only affects developing nations. In the world’s richest countries, one out of four children is living in poverty.
- On a global scale, anyone who makes more than $34,000 annually is among the richest one percent in the world.
- For every $1 in aid a developing country receives, over $25 is spent on debt repayment.
- Fifty-one percent of the world’s 100 hundred wealthiest bodies are corporations—not nations.
Food for Thought
Catholic Charities USA, Caritas International, and Catholic Relief Services do exemplary work in assisting persons who are poor and vulnerable, both in direct service during emergencies and enabling people to build the resiliency they need to stand on their own.
During a November 18, 2018, homily at St. Peter's, Pope Francis lamented that “the wealthy few” enjoy what, “in justice, belongs to all” and said Christians cannot remain indifferent to the growing cries of the exploited and the indigent, including migrants.
He noted that “we Christians cannot stand with arms folded in indifference or with arms outstretched in helplessness” about those in need. He cited the “stifled cry” of the unborn, of starving children, “of young people more used to the explosion of bombs than happy shouts at the playground.”
He also drew attention to the plight of abandoned elderly, the friendless and “the cry of all those forced to flee their homes and native land for an uncertain future. It is the cry of entire peoples, deprived even of the great natural resources at their disposal.” Francis said the poor were weeping “while the wealthy few feast on what, in justice, belongs to all. Injustice is the perverse root of poverty.”
God of Justice,
Open our eyes to see you in the faces of the millions of people around the world who live in poverty.
Open our ears to the cries of the poor who are exploited and to those who feel trapped by the hopelessness and helplessness of their conditions.
Open our hearts that we might be sensitive to the needs of every person.
Loving God, bring new life and new hope to those who feel crushed by poverty. Move us to action so that we can be your instruments of peace and work to obliterate the injustice of poverty in our world.
Give us a generosity of spirit in sharing our gifts and resources with our brothers and sisters around the world. Inspire us to care for all, that we might live in right relationship with you, with ourselves, with one another and with Creation. Amen.