The Irish Bishops’ Conference has called for Catholics to lobby against poverty during the cost of living crisis.
At its Autumn General Meeting this week in Saint Patrick’s College Maynooth, bishops discussed the increasing financial challenges facing people throughout Ireland, specifically the poor and vulnerable, due to the cost of living crisis.
Bishops said in a statement: “A combination of economic pressures have resulted in an unacceptable level of social deprivation and hardship which, if not dealt with equitably by those who have public responsibility, will threaten social cohesion and undermine the common good. All of us - public representatives, parishioners and local Church leaders - have a duty to come together in solidarity with those who are suffering to show our concern in practical ways.
“In pursuit of the Gospel mandate to love God and our neighbour, Catholics also have a responsibility to continue to lobby those in authority to ensure that their policies and actions do not widen the gap between rich and poor, thereby leaving poor people further behind.
According to The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, more than 200,000 children are living in enforced deprivation and 70 per cent of calls to the organisation comes from households with children.
Meanwhile, marriage care service Accord, says that 81 per cent of couples it surveyed report that money-related problems are the greatest cause of family and relationship pressure.
The Bishops added: “It is also a very difficult time for small and medium-sized businesses, who provide the very backbone of local economies. Public policy supports should continue to target directly such businesses in order to mitigate the financial crisis that they are now facing.”
They acknowledged that some measures in the Government’s Budget 2023 will address aspects of the cost of living and energy crisis in the short-term, but believe the budget’s one-off payments will not deal with the growth in the levels poverty in our society and the increasing gap between rich and poor.
The bishops stressed that solutions need to be targeted and focused on addressing systemic issues that create poverty such as lack of housing, insufficient education supports, underemployment, and youth unemployment.
They also reiterated the call of the Northern Bishops last week, in asking all parishes to help those who are most impacted by economy.