Exactly forty years ago today, on March 26th 1967, a ground breaking document was released from the Vatican, by Pope Paul VI. His encyclical Populorum Progressio - (On the Development of Peoples) was an urgent call for action for the world's poor. "The moment for action has reached a critical juncture", he wrote. "Can countless innocent children be saved? Can countless destitute families obtain more humane living conditions? Can world peace and human civilisation be preserved intact? Every individual and every nation must face up to this issue, for it is their problem." (Populorum Progressio #80) Pope Paul VI was moved to decry the inequalities in the world through his encyclical after his visits to Africa and Asia in the early 60s, where he saw for himself the bare survival of peoples as they struggled against debilitating poverty. Inspired by this document, a network of over 40 different Catholic organizations including CAFOD, Progressio, Pax Christi, Justice and Peace and Catholic Charismatic Renewal, got together last Advent to mark the 40th anniversary by launching the livesimply challenge. The challenge calls on the Catholic community and beyond to consider what changes they could make in their lifestyles so that they become part of the solution to fighting poverty, not part of the problem. CAFOD Director, Chris Bain said: "Forty years on from Pope Paul VI's prophetic encyclical, his words challenge us today: It is everyone's responsibility, he says, to contribute to making a fairer and more just world, fit for future generations. livesimply addresses us as individuals and as members of the communities we belong to - family, parish, school, nation. It calls on us to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with people who are poor. In order for us to respond to this message, livesimply asks us to take a look at our own lifestyles and our personal impact on poverty and the environment. "Throughout this Lenten period many have already started their commitment to live simply, by making a livesimply promise. Through an online 'Promise bank', people are pledging to change something in their lives and inviting others to join in. Promises to buy fair-trade goods, use re-usable bags for shopping, to share a simple lunch and promises to pray for half an hour each day are just some of the responses to the livesimply challenge." http://www.livesimply.org.uk Christine Allen, Executive Director of Progressio (formerly CIIR) said: "When Pope Paul VI wrote the encyclical Populorum Progressio ... the huge inequalities between rich and poor were just breaking into the public agenda. Then it was revolutionary for a Pope to express concern for a more just world, especially on the need for radical structural change. Today the challenge is as relevant as ever: go beyond charity and work for justice."
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