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U.S. bishops appeal to leaders to do more to ensure food security around the globe

August 7, 2023 Catholic News Agency 0
A family sits in a tent at camp for refugees at Kenya’s border town with Ethiopia, Moyale, about 484 miles north of capital Nairobi, on March 17, 2018 after fleeing Ethiopia. / Brian Ongoro/AFP via Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 7, 2023 / 15:40 pm (CNA).

In a statement issued Aug 7, the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace called on global leaders to do more to ensure food security for all.

Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, cited numbers from the World Food Programme (WFP), the global humanitarian organization addressing food security, that estimated about 258 million people in 58 countries experienced crisis-level acute hunger in 2022.

“Russia’s recent decision no longer to allow Ukraine to export tons of grain means more people are likely to go hungry,” said Malloy, who along with Pope Francis is calling on world leaders “to look beyond narrow national interests, focus on the common good, and join in ensuring that critical food supplies can flow to those most in need.”

Malloy pointed out that prior to the Russian invasion, Ukraine was considered “Europe’s breadbasket” and was the origin for large amounts of wheat, corn, and barley as well as almost half of the world’s sunflower oil — all flowing through ports on the Black Sea. Those ports were blocked when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Last June the Holy Father appealed for the end of the blockades that were preventing the flow of grain through Ukrainian seaports. Malloy’s statement provided more context for the timing of this latest appeal:

“From July 2022, the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), the U.N.-brokered agreement between Russia and Ukraine, allowed Ukraine to export about 33 million tons of grain and other agricultural products. Russia’s decision to withdraw from the BSGI and its bombing of grain storage facilities in Ukraine will greatly impact the availability of food supplies at a time when more people are in dire need of food. With the number of forcibly displaced people at a record high, the World Food Programme estimates 345 million people will face acute hunger this year, with 129,000 potentially facing famine in places like Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and Myanmar.

As the statement acknowledged, the war in Ukraine is not the only reason food insecurity has risen globally over the last few years. Natural disasters, the pandemic, regional wars, and other conflicts have also contributed to high rates of hunger.

Haiti, for example, is in dire need. According to a U.N. report, a total of 4.9 million people — which is nearly half the population of the country — are experiencing acute food insecurity, and large numbers affected are children. The Guardian reported that the WFP will be unable to feed 100,000 Haitians this month because it has insufficient funding to meet the needs.

“Surging food inflation in Haiti means the cost of feeding each person has increased while the number of those in need of assistance has also grown, driving up the cost of delivering WFP aid,” the Guardian article reported.

On the other side of the world, northern Ethiopia is another nation suffering from acute food insecurity. Countries in the horn of Africa rely on Ukrainian grain, and the Tigray region is just emerging from one of the worst recent conflicts following two years of fighting between Ethiopia’s federal army and regional forces. The conflict has created millions of refugees; high rates of death, injury, and trauma; and widespread food insecurity. A persistent drought has made food scarcity even worse and earlier this summer the U.S. suspended food aid there due to reports that government officials were diverting food aid. More than 20 million people in Ethiopia rely on food assistance. 

Bishop Malloy ended the appeal by the bishops with a poignant reminder that many of our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering. “The most vulnerable are crying in hunger. With the compassion of Christ, we need to heed their cries and help,” he said.



Sex, wokeness, and social justice

July 8, 2023 James Kalb 71

America and the whole Western world have just completed “Pride Month,” a string of observances celebrating all things LGBTQ. The message was that these things are normal and beneficial, a matter of choice and identity, […]

The Dispatch

Archbishop Gomez addresses rise of ‘wokeness’, social movements in US

November 4, 2021 Catholic News Agency 31
Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles speaks at the USCCB’s fall meeting in Baltimore, Md., Nov. 11, 2019 / Christine Rousselle/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Nov 4, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

On Thursday, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles discussed the rise of new secular ideologies and movements for social change in the United States during a virtual address to the Congress of Catholics and Public Life in Madrid. 

He asserted that it is “important for the Church to understand and engage these new movements—not on social or political terms, but as dangerous substitutes for true religion.” 

“Today’s critical theories and ideologies are profoundly atheistic,” Gomez said Nov. 4. “They deny the soul, the spiritual, transcendent dimension of human nature; or they think that it is irrelevant to human happiness.”

Gomez’ thesis, he said, is that the new social movements that exist in the U.S., such as “social justice,” “wokeness,” “identity politics,” “intersectionality,” or “successor ideology,” should be understood as “pseudo-religions, and even replacements and rivals to traditional Christian beliefs,” and can result in tribalism. 

“They reduce what it means to be human to essentially physical qualities—the color of our skin, our sex, our notions of gender, our ethnic background, or our position in society,” he said during the address.

“With the breakdown of the Judeo-Christian worldview and the rise of secularism, political belief systems based on social justice or personal identity have come to fill the space that Christian belief and practice once occupied,” Gomez said. 

Gomez approximated today’s social movements to that of Marxism and noted that they resemble other heresies found in Church history. 

“Like the Gnostics, they reject creation and the body,” Gomez said. “They seem to believe that human beings can become whatever we decide to make of ourselves.”

“These movements are also Pelagian, believing that redemption can be accomplished through our own human efforts, without God,” he said.

Gomez criticized groups of people involved in social movements for prioritizing a “global civilization, built on a consumer economy and guided by science, technology, humanitarian values, and technocratic ideas about organizing society,” and that they have “no need for old-fashioned belief systems and religions.” 

Gomez also noted a “shrinking space” that Christians, Church institutions, and Christian businesses are allowed to occupy with the social changes at work.

“We recognize that often what is being canceled and corrected are perspectives rooted in Christian beliefs — about human life and the human person, about marriage, the family, and more,” he said in the address. 

His message, which was delivered in three parts, discussed the global movement of secularization and de-Christianization, and the impact of the pandemic; a spiritual interpretation of the social justice and political identity movements in the U.S.; and evangelical priorities for the Church.

The COVID-19 pandemic, Gomez said, accelerated the pace at which social issues are being addressed, but it was not the pandemic that caused these movements. He referenced the murder of George Floyd as a tragedy that “became a stark reminder that racial and economic inequality are still deeply embedded in our society.”

“The new social movements and ideologies that we are talking about today, were being seeded and prepared for many years in our universities and cultural institutions,” he said. “But with the tension and fear caused by the pandemic and social isolation, and with the killing of an unarmed black man by a white policeman and the protests that followed in our cities, these movements were fully unleashed in our society.” 

Gomez said that, while there are unique conditions in the United States, “similar broad patterns of aggressive secularization” can be seen in Europe. He called those who are active in such movements “an elite leadership class” that “has little interest in religion and no real attachments to the nations they live in or to local traditions or cultures.” 

He suggested that social movements offer an explanation for events that occur in the world, along with a sense of meaning or purpose—space previously occupied by the Christian worldview. 

“Like Christianity, these new movements tell their own ‘story of salvation,’” Gomez said. 

Gomez presented the Christian story of salvation in contrast to what he called the “woke story,” which “draws its strength from the simplicity of its explanations—the world is divided into innocents and victims, allies and adversaries,” he said. 

“Clearly, this is a powerful and attractive narrative for millions of people in American society and in societies across the West,” Gomez said. “In fact, many of America’s leading corporations, universities, and even public schools are actively promoting and teaching this vision.”

Gomez said that people who buy into these social movements are often motivated by noble intentions and “want to change conditions in society that deny men and women their rights and opportunities for a good life.” 

“We all want to build a society that provides equality, freedom, and dignity for every person,” Gomez said. “But we can only build a just society on the foundation of the truth about God and human nature.”

To address the social movements, Gomez said, the Church needs to “proclaim Jesus Christ. Boldly, creatively.” 

“We should not be intimidated by these new religions of social justice and political identity,” he said. “The Gospel remains the most powerful force for social change that the world has ever seen.” 

Gomez said that the Church has “been ‘antiracist’ from the beginning,” but has “not always lived up to our beautiful principles, or carried out the mission entrusted to us by Christ.”

“The world does not need a new secular religion to replace Christianity,” Gomez said. “It needs you and me to be better witnesses. Better Christians. Let us begin by forgiving, loving, sacrificing for others, putting away spiritual poisons like resentment and envy.”

Gomez said he draws inspiration from the lives of U.S. figures such as Dorothy Day and Venerable Augustus Tolton. 

“Father Tolton once said, ‘The Catholic Church deplores a double slavery — that of the mind and that of the body. She endeavors to free us of both,’ Gomez said. “Today, we need this confidence in the power of the Gospel.”

He concluded his address by recognizing an “authentic religious awakening,” in the United States and asked for the continued intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas.