NEW YORK — The day before the United Nations met to discuss progress of the Millennium Development Goals, more than 80 Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders convened here at the Interfaith Consultation on Global Hunger Crisis here to decry world hunger. Among them was Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, who represented Holy Name Province.
Convened by Bread for the World, more than 80 Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders met on Sept. 24 at St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church in Manhattan, one day before the U.N. General Assembly discussed the progress of the Millennium Development Goals. The group met for discernment and prayer on how religious communities could respond to the world crisis.
Jacek, co-chair of the Province’s Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation Directorate, said the meeting reminded the group that U.S. faith communities ought to be more pro-active in addressing the root causes of hunger, abject poverty and despair in the world.
“This is at the core of our mission of preemptive peacemaking, which is profoundly spiritual and yet, at the same time, has clear social and political ramifications,” he said.
Jacek, who was interviewed by Catholic News Service (CNS), described how the Province has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of hungry people in its local communities. “We’re doing our best to respond to this reality of hunger in the midst of the people we minister to.”
He told CNS that friars are demanding that U.S. elected officials carry out “a more vigorous effort to fight poverty and hunger at home and abroad.” He added that the recently-established Franciscan Action Network “can provide a much-needed infrastructure to leverage our collective power by doing our part to shape public policies around the issues of world hunger and poverty according to the biblical mandates of justice.” Jacek travelled to New York from St. Camillus parish in Silver Spring, Md., where he has lived since the summer.
Sister Lora Dambroski of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God, and president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, agreed. “It was good to meet with Catholics and other Christians and with our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters. Together, we made a statement about the issue of hunger being a critical human need,” added Sister Dambroski, who is provincial minister of the U.S. province of her order.
“We seem to be able to find several hundred billions of dollars to address America’s financial crises,” she noted. “We should be able to raise some money to help solve the even worse human crises that affect our brothers and sisters domestically and internationally.”
John Carr, executive director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, “The fact that hungry people exist is a sign of an unjust world and is a moral crisis that needs to be addressed both on the systemic level, as religious communities, and on a personal level.”
The World Bank estimates the number of people living in poverty around the world fell from a high of 1.9 billion in 1981 to 1.4 billion in 2005.