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Church in UK: Archbishop leads call to tackle poverty on the doorstep

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appealed to us to be a Church for the poor and the Catholic Church in England and Wales is answering that call by organizing a seminal conference to tackle rising levels of domestic poverty. Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark spoke to Susy Hodges about why this initiative is so important.

Listen to the extended interview with Archbishop Smith: RealAudioMP3

In the aftermath of the economic crisis, Archbishop Smith says there is clear evidence that the poverty crisis is worsening and how more and more people in the United Kingdom “are finding it difficult to feed their families.”

“It’s been quite obvious with government austerity (measures), people losing their jobs and so on, that there’s a great increase in poverty in this country.” He says the statistics bear out this trend: “3.6 million children are living in poverty, approximately 5 million people are earning less than the living wage and 350,000 people are coming regularly to food banks.”

Asked about the aims of the conference and whether he hopes it might persuade the government to rethink some of its social spending cuts and austerity measures, Archbishop Smith says he is not that optimistic. “To be honest, I wouldn’t hold my breath.” However he goes on to say that it’s “important to engage with the government and put the Church’s view to them.” “It’s about raising awareness in the government of the realities of life" for those living below the poverty line.


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