26 September 2013


In a reference to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference's annual social justice statement 'Lazarus at our Gate' issued ahead of Social Justice Sunday on Sep 29th, executive officer of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, John Ferguson, has described the newly elected Australian government's plan to cut back $4.5 billion dollars from the aid budget, as being like a rich man chasing a beggar to recover crumbs from his table, and unworthy of a civilised nation.

The Bishop's statement issued ahead of Social Justice Sunday on Sep 29th, said it was a critical time in the fight against world poverty.

According to Bishop Christopher Saunders, chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, 'Our nation has a historic opportunity to be a force for peace and generosity. This is the time for a recommitment to eradicating extreme poverty. 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 foreign aid represents a serious departure from Australia's commitment.'

What are we to say to those in extreme poverty who lie like Lazarus at our gate?'' he added.

The Catholic bishops said aid should focus on five priorities: the world's hungriest, those vulnerable to natural disasters, the indigenous, the disabled and those dislocated by conflict.

The bishops said that extreme poverty had been halved since 1990, from 47 per cent of humanity to 24 per cent by 2008, and about 14,000 lives a day had been saved by aid and development in this time.

The full text of the statement can be viewed at the website of the Australian Catholic Bishops.

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