United Church Says Economic Crisis No Time to Forget Poor



    TORONTO, Oct. 8 /CNW/ - This year Canadians are preparing to celebrate
Thanksgiving during a time of great uncertainty. With fears of a recession and
the global economic crisis making headline news, many people are worried about
their financial future. There is growing anxiety over mortgages, pensions, and
jobs.
    Against this backdrop of heightened tension, The United Church of Canada
is challenging Canadians to temper their concern about financial security with
the awareness that we live in a world where unacceptable poverty exists in the
midst of plenty.
    It is a Thanksgiving message the church fears will be drowned out by the
bombardment of news reports about the credit crunch in U.S. financial markets.
    "The terrible irony is that while our attention has been focused on stock
markets and financial institutions around the world crying poor, the cries of
those who are truly poor are not being heard," explains United Church
Moderator David Giuliano.
    "We must always remember that, while we live in a world of great
abundance, there is also incredible disparity," says Giuliano.
    Globally, he explains, there is a vast economic gap that divides those
living in the North and South. And in Canada, the gap between rich and poor is
widening, too.

    
    -   800 million people worldwide are chronically malnourished
    -   global food prices have gone up 83 percent in the past three years
    -   750,000 Canadians rely on at least one of over 650 food banks - twice
        as many as in 1989
    -   80 percent of First Nations peoples in Canada have personal incomes
        below $30,000 per year
    -   788,000 Canadian children live in poverty (2005)
    

    Giuliano adds that despite Canada's prosperity, some groups - including
single parents, Indigenous peoples, new immigrants, people with disabilities,
and older adults - experience unacceptably high rates of poverty.
    "The growing gap in Canada between the wealthiest and those living on the
margins threatens the social cohesion that gives Canada a positive reputation
in the world," says Giuliano. "We can afford to do better."
    He says that the current financial crisis demonstrates how powerful
governments, the investment community, and international financial structures
have been freely allowed to gamble with the sustainability of the global
economy, thus jeopardizing the well-being of the planet and of millions of
people around the world.
    "Until we make the principles of justice, equality, equity, and
sustainability a reality, we will continue to see the deterioration of the
economic system," says Giuliano. "I believe strongly that we must stand in
solidarity with the poor, as Jesus did, and demand our political leaders renew
their commitment to ending poverty."
    He adds, "Inevitably a financial crisis tears communities apart. Faith,
however, calls us into community to stand together with each other regardless
of our individual situations."
    And although this Thanksgiving may bring difficult times for many people,
says Giuliano, "what makes it possible to go on has always been the awareness
that we are not alone. It is the centre of our faith. This world finally is
still God's, and God's love and justice will prevail."





For further information:

For further information: Mary-Frances Denis, Communications Officer, The
United Church of Canada, (416) 231-7680 ext. 2016 (office), 1-800-268-3781
ext. 2016 (toll-free), (416) 885-7478 (cell), (416) 766-0057 (home),
mdenis@united-church.ca

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