environmental_degradationIn a landmark visit to Ecuador, Pope Francis denounced the “irresponsible use and abuse of [the earth’s] goods” as the leading factor contributing to global poverty. The Pope addressed a crowd of over 1 million Ecuadorians at a mass on July 7 and touched on several issues concerning increasing poverty statistics.

One focal point of the Pope’s speech regarded Ecuador’s rich natural resources being the target of impending oil drilling. According to CBS, “Containing both the Galapagos Islands and Amazon rainforest, Ecuador has more biodiversity than any other country on earth. At the same time, it is heavily reliant on revenues from its oil reserves.” The South American nation boasts a rich oil reserve underneath its historically pure environmental ecosystems. The Pope strongly advocated for Ecuadorians to protect their oil reserves and to come together to preserve their natural resources.

Pope Francis’ message to Ecuador made impressions throughout the world, especially with Catholic investors. Since the Pope began publicly condemning environmental degradation, investors from all over began pulling out of fossil fuels and reinvesting their finances into more environmentally conscience resources. The driving force behind this change in investment comes at the Pope’s urging to think long-term. Pope Francis compelled not just Ecuador, but the rest of the plant to “consider the long-term consequences of harvesting the planet’s natural resources over its immediate payoff.” A strong message by the Pope for every one, of all beliefs, to think about the wellbeing of our planet.

While the Pope made his address at a Catholic mass with religion at its core, his words must resonate outside of a particular faith. His urgency to think long-term is critical in preventing the spread of poverty. More deforestation, mining, and oil drilling would displace millions more each year, leaving them homeless and their lives in ruins. Pope Francis makes a strong case for re-evaluating the way we approach our planet’s resources; it is up to us to listen and follow through.

Diego Catala

Sources: Ring Of Fire Radio, CBS News
Photo: Huffington Post

Impact of the Papal Encyclical on Global Poverty
Pope Francis’s encyclical is a timely response to the world’s most pressing challenge. Already, climate change is contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people every year. Attached, comes a costly price tag worth more than $1.2 trillion, according to the Guardian.

Since those who will bear the brunt of the burden will be the world’s most disadvantaged, the papal encyclical is even more imperative to understand in order to fully address global poverty.

Food Insecurity

The amount of food-insecure people will be anything up to 200 million people by 2050, and 24 million malnourished children. Less food availability will make prices surge, resulting in a general 40-50 percent price increase by 2050, which will hurt the estimated 2 billion more impoverished people. The prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, said, “a 1C rise in temperature is associated with a 10 percent productivity loss in farming,” which equates to a $2.5 billion loss, or 2 percent loss in U.S. GDP.

Biodiversity Loss

Biodiversity loss is one of the main effects of climate change. As weather patterns shift, sensitive species are more likely to die out, inevitably affecting the many other species dependent on the original keystone species. The keystone species performs a crucial role to its ecosystem or habitat.

Extreme Weather

Scientific research indicates that climate change will result in stronger, more lasting, and more frequent storms. This affects the agricultural sector, which is for many developing nations one of the largest contributors to their economies. Thus, not only will extreme weather take more lives, but it will also take away fertile lands and replace them with over flooded and destroyed soil.

According to NASA, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecasts a global temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. These storms may take 2 percent of the U.S. GDP by 2030.

Human Health

Extreme weather may lead to disease outbreaks. As temperatures increase, disease-ridden insects and other hosts are more likely to spread across wider niches, infecting populations unfamiliar and defenseless to the viruses. Malaria, dengue fever, cholera, and meningitis are among a few diseases that are prone to expand with global climate change.

The spread of allergenic plants, thanks to global warming, may also lead to an increase in human health cases worldwide. Air pollution, created by fossil fuel burning, also contributes to about 4.5 million premature deaths per year.

Global Economy

Damages by climate change value to about 1.6 percent of the global GDP. Researchers believe this will rise to 3.2 percent of global GDP within 15 years. The world’s least developed countries will suffer the greatest losses, losing up to 11 percent of their GDP.

The ugly truth is that climate change is, and will continue to upset every aspect of society from agriculture, energy, the economy, transportation, education, and even defense.

The papal encyclical has the potential to educate and inspire a massive population to embrace responsible stewardship. It will likely be used by at least 1 billion Catholics, a large audience by anyone’s standards.

– Lin Sabones

Sources: The Guardian, NASA, USA News WWF,
Photo: Huffington Post

Pope Francis will deliver an encyclical this summer on the subject of climate change. In preparation for the speech, the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences held a heavily attended workshop on April 28 in Rome. Included among the guest groups were the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and the Heartland Institute.

Another prominent guest, Cardinal Peter Turkson, asserted that “irrespective of the causes of climate change,” Christians are obligated to help the poor. Therein lies a complicating factor: Christians must now consider altruism without unwittingly aggravating the causes of climate change.

This brings to light a much more generalized question regarding religion’s role in the alleviation of poverty, or lack thereof. Fundamentalist Christians, for example, would read the Bible and disregard any pontifical command to pay attention to climate change.

The picture becomes even cloudier when politics are factored in. Most Evangelical Christians and Mormons are conservative Republicans who believe that the scientific evidence supporting the phenomena of climate change is inaccurate and/or falsified.

Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and Evangelical Christian, attempts to bridge the gap between science and evangelical faith. She is a member of a statistical minority; according to the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, only 44 percent of evangelicals believe that global warming is both real and the result of human behavior. Some politicians even believe that God would not let human behavior destroy the planet.

Hayhoe debunks biblical arguments such as those saying that bad things still happen even with a Judeo-Christian God in existence because that God grants free will to His people. “That’s really what climate change is,” she explains, “It’s a casualty of the decisions that we have made.”

She goes on to hypothesize that many evangelicals fear the concept of climate change for two reasons. First, they erroneously believe that all scientists are atheists. Second, their typically conservative political viewpoints biases them against any and all potential “big government” interventions.

To make matters of religion and politics even more complicated, most Jews lean politically left and are beginning to take active steps as a community to alleviate climate change. The Reconstructionist and Reform movements tend to be the most liberal, followed by the Conservative and Orthodox Jews. Generally, the more traditional the sect is in its practice of Judaism, the less environmentally active that movement tends to be.

Consequently, researchers find a startling, ironic commonality between the most observant Jews and the most observant Christians. It appears that the more conservatively a religious sect’s people practice that religion, the less likely they are to take steps to stop climate change.

Adding fuel to that fire, it is the poorest populations that suffer the most from the effects of climate change. The one demographic that both Jewish and Christian ideologies make the most efforts to help is the very group that falls on the receiving end of their most devout groups’ inaction.

So what is to be done? Should the secular American population vote in politicians who choose religious freedom over environmental activism, or vice-versa? Maybe the next election cycle will bring forth more people like Katharine Hayhoe, but then again, maybe not. Only time and ballots can tell.

– Leah Zazofsky

Sources: Slate, The Heartland Institute, Yale Climate Connections
Photo: Telegraph


poverty quotes and sayings


“Poverty is relatively cheap to address and incredibly expensive to ignore.”

– Clint Borgen, President of The Borgen Project



In June of 1998, all heads of the U.N. agencies signed a statement defining the term “poverty.” The statement read,“Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity…It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to…It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living on marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.”

After the World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995, the U.N. recognized the need to reduce “overall” poverty, as 117 member-states adopted a declaration and program of action dedicated to this cause.

What is significant about this concept of overall poverty is the idea that the U.N. considers it present in all countries, whether it exists as “mass poverty in many developing countries,” “pockets of poverty amid wealth in developed countries” or “the utter destitution of people who fall outside of family support systems, social institutions and safety nets.

Poverty has made itself a presence in everyone’s lives, whether it is in the form of a classmate, colleague, a friend in the neighborhood or a friend in a neighboring country. Below are several quotes on poverty from past and present prominent leaders, defining what poverty looks like to them.


Best Poverty Quotes


  1. “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” — Mother Teresa, Missionary and Saint.
  2. “These days there is a lot of poverty in the world, and that’s a scandal when we have so many riches and resources to give to everyone. We all have to think about how we can become a little poorer.” — Pope Francis, current Head of the Catholic Church.
  3. “Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.” — Muhammad Ali, Professional Boxer.
  4. “People…were poor not because they were stupid or lazy. They worked all day long, doing complex physical tasks. They were poor because the financial institution in the country did not help them widen their economic base.” — Muhammad Yunus, Author of “Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle against World Poverty.”
  5. “Where you live should not determine whether you live, or whether you die.” — Bono, Singer and Philanthropist.
  6. “If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather than dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities.” — Barbara Bush, former First Lady of the U.S.
  7. “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.” — Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa.
  8. “Just because a child’s parents are poor or uneducated is no reason to deprive the child of basic human rights to health care, education and proper nutrition.” — Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund.
  9. “If poverty is a disease that infects the entire community in the form of unemployment and violence, failing schools and broken homes, then we can’t just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal that entire community.” — President Barack Obama, 44th and current President of the U.S.
  10. “Poverty is not only about income poverty, it is about the deprivation of economic and social rights, insecurity, discrimination, exclusion and powerlessness. That is why human rights must not be ignored but given even greater prominence in times of economic crisis.” — Irene Khan, former Secretary-General of Amnesty International, 2010.

– Blythe Riggan

Sources: BBC, Brainy Quote 1, Brainy Quote 2, Goodreads, OHCHR, Standford, The Book of the Poor
Photo: Bio

According to the Associated Press (AP), children who live in Villa 21-24, a dangerous slum in Buenos Aires, Argentina, are playing cricket in order to avoid a life of crime and poverty.

The Caacupe community center introduced the sport to the slum in 2009 to “integrate children to a game that traditionally was reserved for Argentina’s upscale private schools”.

Moreover, the AP said that Pope Francis, who is also known as the “slum pope”, was one of the founders of Caacupe and remains connected with its programs.

The community center is praised because children are given the opportunity to do something positive instead of giving into a lifestyle of drugs, crime and frustration.

Although the community center’s aim to help children out of poverty is benevolent, a closer examination is needed regarding Pope Francis and his role in Argentina while serving as a Bishop during the reign of a brutal military regime.

Vincent Navarro, who teaches Public Policy at Johns Hopkins University, is critical of Pope Francis despite some of his good intentions. This is primarily due to his silence during the Argentinean dictatorship in the 70’s and 80’s.

“The dictatorship, established in defense of the more privileged groups in Argentina, was especially brutal to any dissident and opponents of its reign,” Navarro said. “This silence reflected a lack of sensitivity to gross human rights violations carried out by dictatorships with close ties to the Catholic Church.”

Navarro said that the pope claimed that his silence should be excused since it was “a tactical and honest move”. Navarro also gives him credit for encouraging the Church to expand its involvement in fighting poverty and for indicating that poverty is the result of the exploitation under the capitalist system in return for profits.

However, a recent service that honored the fallen members of the Church who sided with the fascist military regime in Spain in the 30’s is another reason Navarro criticizes the Pope and the Catholic establishment.

“It is safe to assume that Pope Francis knows very well that the Catholic Church supported this military coup and dictatorship of General Franco, as evidence of this abounds,” Navarro asserted. “The Catholic Church was one of the major landowners in Spain and opposed the land reform initiated by the democratically elected Republican government.”

Although Pope Francis was one of the founders of the community center that is helping Argentinean children escape poverty today, the Counterpunch article written by Navarro uses historical examples to criticize his refusal to confront the repression of the military regime in the past.

– Juan Campos

Sources: Counterpunch
Photo: Yahoo

Only 5 percent of the world’s income is in the hands of the poorest 40 percent of the world’s population.  According to UNICEF, around 22,000 children die every day from poverty-related issues.  They die in some of the poorest villages on the planet that most people don’t even know exist and not a lot is being done to help them, considering the amount of waste the rest of the world produces.

Around 28% of children in the developing world are projected to be underweight or to have stunted growth, sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia containing the majority of those children.  Because of the slow progress in these two regions, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) objective of cutting the number of undernourished children in half will be missed by 30 million children, a tragic amount.

As far as the health of the impoverished goes, infectious diseases continue to harm those living in poverty all over the world.  Every year about 1 million people die from malaria and 350-500 million people have malaria.  Of all those people who died from malaria, 90 percent of them are from Africa and 80 percent of the people with malaria are children.

Around 3 million people die each year from HIV/AIDS and about 40 million people are living with it.

Water problems can be a big problem for impoverished countries as well, with about 1.8 million annual child deaths from diarrhea which stems from non-clean water sources.  Nearly 1.1 billion people in developing countries don’t have suitable access to water, and 2.6 billion don’t have any means of even basic hygiene.

Those facts can make it seem like there is no hope, but there are actually a lot of people out there helping to end undernourishment and extreme poverty.  Pope Francis, for example, is a strong advocate for this cause and he has stated multiple times that “with wealth, comes responsibility.”  He seeks to help the many refugees, fleeing war in their countries, who are seeking at least some sort of sustainable living conditions.

These refugees not only fail to find generosity, but they often breathe their last breath on their voyage to find a better home.  According to Pope Francis, “It is intolerable that thousands of people continue to die every day from hunger, even though substantial quantities of food are available, and often simply wasted.”

A very admirable group of people created a volunteer organization called The Justice Project Macarthur and are going to a food festival at the Camden Town Farm this Saturday, February 1, in Camden, Australia, which is just outside of Sydney.  This food festival will be supporting Oxfam’s Grow campaign that strives to create equality in global food availability and distribution.

The Justice Project Macarthur volunteers are promoting this campaign to everyone at the festival so that they can all be presented with the chance to make a difference.  The Justice Project Macarthur is an action group that advocates for global injustices like slavery, fair trade, and food security and they are a great inspiration for people seeking to provide aid for the undernourished around the globe.

Kenneth W. Kliesner

Sources: Global Issues, Catholic Online, Camden-Narellan Advertiser
Photo: Macfound

United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, met with the Vatican on January 14 for an hour and a half to discuss issues facing the Middle East. Kerry and the Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolinm covered topics that ranged from Israel and Palestinian relations, the Syrian civil war and a possible meeting between Pope Francis and President Barack Obama.

John Kerry is the first Roman Catholic Secretary of State to visit the Vatican since the 1980’s. Kerry stopped by the Vatican on his way from Paris where he was at the Syrian Peace Talks with the UN.

The Pope has been very critical of the United States, debating whether they should invade Syria saying, “Violence and war are never the way to peace.” The current state of Syria was discussed at length, with the Vatican issuing a statement of support of the peace talks. Both men said the talks, ‘covered broad topics’ and were a ‘comprehensive conversation.’

Kerry hinted that there are plans in the works for a meeting between Obama and Pope Francis who have both expressed interest in addressing extreme poverty on a global scale. Pope Francis has further caught the attention of United States conservatives who criticized him for his focus on addressing poverty.

In a statement outlining his vision for the future of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said, “The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open, there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor…may we never abandon them.”

Pope Francis has brought positive change with his plan to address global poverty. It is a welcome and refreshing change to have the religious leader proclaim that Catholics should focus more on helping the poor. The pope leads a religion with an estimated 1.2 billion people across the world.

– Colleen Eckvahl

Sources: Christian Today, USA Today, The Washington Post
Photo: Religion News Service

roosevelt Quotes from World Leaders on Human Rights
1. David Cameron, UK Prime Minister
“If we are going to try to get across to the poorest people in the world that we care about their plight and we want them to join one world with the rest of us, we have got to make promises and keep promises.”

2. Irene Khan, former Secretary-General of Amnesty International
“Poverty is not only about income poverty, it is about the deprivation of economic and social rights, insecurity, discrimination, exclusion and powerlessness. That is why human rights must not be ignored but given even greater prominence in times of economic crisis.”

3. Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

“Discrimination and multiple deprivations of human rights are also frequently part of the problem, sentencing entire populations to poverty… It is surely a matter of outrage that over half a million women die annually from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. This is nearly half the annual global death toll, and arguably, a direct reflection of the disempowerment of women in social, economic and political life.”

4. Jesse Jackson, American Statesman and Civil Rights Activist
“The great responsibility that we have today is to put the poor and the near poor back on front of the American agenda.”

5. Pope Francis “A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.”

6. Dalai Lama XIV “No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We have the same basic human needs and concerns. All of us human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals and as peoples. That is human nature.”

7. Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani Human Rights Activist
“I don’t know why people have divided the whole world into two groups, west and east. Education is neither eastern nor western. Education is education and it’s the right of every human being.”

8. Pranab Mukherjee, President of India 
“There is no humiliation more abusive than hunger.”

9. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations
“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.”

10. Barack Obama, President of the United States
“This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many.”

11. Desmond Tutu, Noble Peace Prize Laureate
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

12. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
“History proves that all dictatorships, all authoritarian forms of government are transient. Only democratic systems are not transient. Whatever the shortcomings, mankind has not devised anything superior.”

13. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian President
“The world is in need of an encompassing and of course, just and humane order in the light of which the rights of all are preserved and peace and security are safeguarded.”

14. Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Cuban Foreign Minister
“This problem will knock on the doors of all of us, whether through uncontrolled and unmanageable migration flows, by means of diseases and epidemics, as a result of the conflicts generated by poverty and hunger, or as a result of events which are today unforeseeable.”

15. Warren Buffett, American Investor and Philanthropist
“Someone is sitting in the shade today, because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Tyson Watkins

Sources: Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights: Quotes, Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights: Statement by Navenethem Pillay, Catholics Confront Global Poverty, Dalai Lama, Think Exist, Brainy Quote

Photo: Vintage 3D

Pope Francis, the current Pope of the Catholic Church, has been characterized as one of the most progressive popes in recent history. In addition to insisting that every homosexual person be treated with love and respect, Pope Francis has redirected the main focus of the Church to helping the poor and marginalized individuals.

In his ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ speech, Pope Francis stated, “as long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems, or for that matter, to any problems.”

On December 10, the Pope invited individuals across the globe to join him in a global wave of prayer to end world hunger in honor of Human Rights Day. The prayer commenced at noon in Tonga and ended in the American Samoa. 164 countries prayed for 24 hours.

The Pope’s efforts support the recent statements by the President of the Vatican, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga. Maradiaga says, “with the help of governments and the (United Nations,) we can end hunger by 2025.”

The Circle of Protection, a coalition of Christian groups, organized a prayer that took place on the United States Capitol Lawn and was expected to have a large Congressional turnout. Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut praised the Pope’s efforts by stating that his “focus on feeding the poorest and most vulnerable embodies the mission of the Catholic Church and is an inspiration to us all.”

The Catholic Charities USA website offers individuals the opportunity to sign a pledge to join the Pope in using prayer to bring about the end of global poverty and hunger.

Pope Francis has also organized fasting and prayers for peace in September of this year to help the violence in Syria.

Lienna Feleke-Eshete

Sources: Huffington Post, Catholic News Agency
Photo: Pat Dollard

“Just like Pope John Paul II was in 1995, Pope Francis has been named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ for presenting the Church’s ‘timeless truths’ to today’s world. In all that he does, through his humble ways and simple lifestyle, Pope Francis clearly radiates the joy that comes from loving God and caring for his people.  There could be no finer choice for ‘Person of the Year.'” – Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York

 Pope Francis has been named Time’s Person of the Year for 2013. The popular magazine states that in order to gain this title a person must cast a strong influence over the world. It is clear that he has done this. His humility and selfless acts of kindness has renewed some faith back in to the Catholic Church. Catholics and non-Catholics have started to see the Pope in a different light. Aptly named “The Peoples Pope,” Pope Francis is no stranger to the poor. He states,  “Many of you have been stripped by this savage world,”  “[It] does not give employment [and it] does not care if there are children dying of hunger.”
“The times talk to us of so much poverty in the world and this is a scandal. Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry.”
Pope Francis urges world leaders for the inequality gap between the rich and poor to be closed. Until this is met Francis will continue to lead by example. He gathers to hear stories from Syrian refugees and eats with the poor. He washes the feet of juvenile delinquents and blesses people by the handful. His frugal lifestyle and refusal to live in luxury shows his love and devotion for the sick and the suffering. He believes that if humility is shown through his hands, others will follow suit.– Amy Robinson

Sources: BBC, NBC News, RT, CNN
Photo: Business Insider