Social commentator John Menadue AO has launched the Australian Bishops’ 2013 – 2014 Social Justice Statement Lazarus at the Gate: A critical moment in our fight against world poverty.
The bishops’ statement calls on Australia to demonstrate the leadership it lays claim to by making a generous commitment to the aid budget and to keep its promise by living up to that commitment.
At the launch Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council said, "Australia is a rich country whose economy is healthy by comparison with most others in the world. The Government’s proposal to cut $4.5 billion from the forward estimates for the foreign aid program represents a serious departure from Australia’s commitment to lift aid funding from 0.3 to 0.5% of Gross National Income," he said.
“What are we to say to those in extreme poverty who lie like Lazarus at our gate?,” Bishop Saunders asked.
He said that as the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals approaches now is the time for Australia to recommitment to eradicating extreme poverty.
“Australia has a new government. Australia has taken a seat on the United Nations Security Council. And next year, Australia will host the G-20 economic summit in Brisbane. Our nation has a historic opportunity to be a force for peace and generosity in the global response to poverty."
In Australia the Catholic Church celebrates Social Justice Sunday on the 29 September.