Advocacy, Catholics Confront Global Poverty

G-20: Praying for our brothers and sisters living in poverty

They had predicted rain for Wednesday morning, September 23, in Pittsburgh. But as Bishop William Winter, retired auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh, and I sat in a meeting room overlooking the river, the sky was clear. This was a good thing because after the press conference of the G-20 Religious Leader’s Summit, we were going to walk prayerfully in procession to another hotel to meet with Michael Froman, the deputy assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, and then to historic First Presbyterian Church.

From the colorful religious garb that many wore, it was clear that the 30 religious leaders winding their way along the streets of Pittsburgh in a silent single file represented a diverse range of traditions. The procession included Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, Muslim, Jewish and Zoroastrian leaders. Our systems of belief were very different, but our spoken prayers and messages were similar. God asks us and the G-20 leaders to give special attention to the needs of poor people at home and abroad as we deal with the economic and climate change crises.

The main messages of the press conference and our meeting with Michael Froman, the “Sherpa” or guide for the U.S. delegation to the G-20, were clear. First, the most important indicator of economic recovery should be what happened to poor people in our nation and around the world. Second, there is support for the Administration’s focus on expanding employment, strengthening agriculture in poor countries, and addressing climate change with attention to the needs of poor people.

Mr. Froman affirmed our concerns and asked for our prayers. Later at First Presbyterian Church, in a soaring sanctuary that reminded me of a Gothic Cathedral, we prayed for him, for the G-20 leaders and for poor and hungry people everywhere.

– Dr. Stephen Colecchi, Director, Office of International Justice and Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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