‘Place the poor’ ahead of everything, Catholic Charities workers told

Poverty, in particular understanding its root causes and finding innovative ways to reduce it, was the focus of Catholic Charities USA’s annual national gathering in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Discussions had extra urgency given the stagnating number of Americans living at or below the poverty line.

“This is our opportunity to come together as providers of critical life services to nearly 10 million of our economically poor sisters and brothers throughout this nation,” said Gerard Carter, executive director of Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte, which hosted the event.

A message from Pope Francis could not have been more fitting for the 500-plus people from Catholic Charities agencies and partners across the United States as they opened their proceedings.

“Be merciful,” the Pope said, speaking in his native Spanish in a personalised video message.

“I ask you to place the poor ahead of yourselves in everything you do. I send a warm greeting to all of you gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina, to celebrate the works of Catholic Charities in the USA,” he said.