Catholics bike across America to combat poverty

 The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) announced yesterday that it is sponsoring a bike ride across America to focus public attention on poverty in the United States and on the need to promote permanent solutions toward breaking the cycle of poverty. A team of twenty riders will leave San Francisco on June 1, 2003, and ride across the country, arriving in Washington, DC on August 1. "This solidarity ride is a unique and creative way to not only raise awareness of domestic poverty, but also provide useful information about ways that low-income people are successful in breaking the cycle through economic and community development projects," said CCHD executive director Fr Robert Vitillo. "The Church believes that all persons have a right to enjoy the human dignity they have received as a gift from God. Thus, we Catholics are committed to breaking the cycle of poverty and other affronts to human dignity." The group of riders, ranging in age from 21-67, will travel through 12 states and 32 Catholic Dioceses in an effort to call attention to the increase in US poverty in America. According to the latest census figures, nearly 33 million Americans now live below the poverty line. In the United States, one out of every six children lives in poverty and one out of every 10 families is poor. "Short term fixes," according to Fr Vitillo "do not solve poverty. Poverty usually occurs in a cycle and unless the cycle is broken through effective long-term solutions, poverty will continue." As the cyclists progress across the country, they will spend time in the evenings with grass roots groups and Catholic parishioners interested in learning more about the issues, encouraging a dialogue about effective ways to permanently eliminate the effects of poverty and urging people to take action. This bike ride across America has been named the "Brake the Cycle of Poverty Tour" and will not only include a core group of twenty who will ride from coast to coast, but will also encourage smaller solidarity rides in communities and regions, such as one that is planned to leave Long Island, N.Y., on July 27 and join up with the core group in Baltimore on July 31 for the final leg of the trip. The purpose is to call attention to U.S. poverty, and to stimulate a dialogue about issues and solutions and urge people to take action. An additional goal is to raise awareness of the Church's response to U. S. poverty through CCHD's support of community-based, self-help projects that are initiated and led by low-income people. For more information about the Brake the Cycle of Poverty in America Bike Ride, visit For more information about Poverty in America, visit

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