The Solidarity Secretariat has already spoken several times about the Sustainable Development Goals. We already know that these are a group of goals that we wish to achieve by 2030, for all countries, for all people in the world. Yes, they are ambitious goals. At the same time, we already know that they are achievable, at least in a broad range. And yes, to achieve them requires our strong commitment, but also our collaboration as Marists.
Reflecting on the first of these objectives, several thoughts may come to mind. First of all, we discover that there are various forms of poverty, we discover that poverty has more than one aspect. We are aware of the food poverty of millions of people who have nothing to put in their mouths; but we also often see the housing poverty of “homeless” people, whom we see sleeping on the doorsteps of our cities; or the energy poverty of those who cannot light a cooker to keep warm on winter days; or the educational poverty of those who cannot go to school.
Another idea that may come to mind is the “repetition” of this issue. Yes, there is repetition, because it is an essential issue, because it is an issue that we cannot leave for later. We discover that this objective is related to “the cry of the poor” of which the objectives of Laudato Si speak to us; we see that this objective guides the work of our NGOs and Marist solidarity associations, in many of our countries and Provinces, for many years; this objective reminds us of the tradition of the Church to work for those who have the least, to join with those in need, to not allow human dignity to be undervalued.
Official reports, over the last 25 years, tell us of the reduction of poverty in overall numbers, although it is true that the numbers of people suffering from poverty are still scandalous. We are also aware that the pandemic situation has worsened the lives of many people who have been seriously affected.
As Marists of Champagnat, since our foundation, we are committed to situations of vulnerability, we wish to be close to people in need. Our last General Chapter reminds us of this with the beautiful expression of the 4th call: “to walk with children and young people on the margins of life” and it also invites us to be attentive to the signs of the times with another expression, equally beautiful, which we find in the 5th call: “to respond boldly to emerging needs”.
Our Marist works are called, in this 21st century, to continue to work for the good of those most in need. We are called to work with others, in networks, so that we can go further in our goal of reducing situations of inequality. Thanks to networking we are able to discover how our partners are working in places where we Marists do not have a presence (parts of Eastern Europe, some areas of Africa, some countries in Asia…). This enriches us and encourages us to continue working, in a committed way, wherever we are.