On the day that figures revealed 1 in 5 children in the UK live in absolute poverty, Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Roman Catholic Archbishop for Westminster stated that society’s “moral insistence is to attend first to those who are most vulnerable, and at present that includes rising numbers of children”.
In his address to a seminal conference organised by CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network), the social action arm of the Catholic Church in England and Wales specifically aimed at strengthening the Church’s response to rising domestic levels of poverty, Archbishop Nichols noted that “there are growing numbers of hungry pupils in classrooms across the country and many accounts of parents foregoing their own meals in order to provide for their children”.
Archbishop Nichols emphasised that “A social safety net that fails to protect essentials such as food and shelter for those who cannot work, is not worthy of being regarded as a safety net at all.”
Urging the Catholic charities, academics, politicians, leading theologians and lay Catholics present to take up Pope Francis’ call to be a “Church for the poor”, Archbishop Nichols urged the Catholic community in England and Wales not to “shy from adding our voice to public debate”.
Helen O’Brien, Chief Executive of CSAN added, “Today’s figures show a particular rise in child poverty amongst working households. This is a worrying trend that Catholic Charities and communities are tackling every day”.
In his speech Archbishop Nichols emphasised the importance of fair wages, and stated that in-work poverty “lays down a challenge not only to the state but to the private and social sector- indeed to all those upon whom people depend for their livelihood”
Notes to Editors
1) Child Poverty Statistics are from DWP’s latest statistical release as reported by the BBC.
2) CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) is the social action arm of the Church in England and Wales. CSAN comprises 41 member charities who work with prisoners, homeless people, refugees, travellers, victims of trafficking and domestic abuse as well as with children living in poverty.
3) The full text of Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster’s address may be read here: CSAN Conference 2013_Archbishop Nichols