Pope Francis went straight from charging the U.S. Congress to care for the neediest to blessing and encouraging Washington's hungry and homeless on Thursday Sept. 24.
Poverty in the United States
The president gave a far-reaching explanation of the state of U.S. poverty, including a description of a new segregation by class mirroring historical racial segregation.
The financial stability of America’s working families is increasingly divided by race and ethnicity, says a study released this week by The Working Poor Families Project.
“In 2013, working families headed by racial/ethnic minorities were twice as likely to be poor or low-income (47 percent) compared with non-Hispanic whites (23 percent),” the study states, “a gap that has increased since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007.”
New stats from the U.S. Census Bureau show that the American poverty rate declined for the first time since 2006 -- 14.5 percent of the total population, down from 15 percent in 2012 -- and that the number of American children living in poverty fell by 1.4 million.
Good news, right?
Well, not necessarily. The Census Bureau data also shows that the overall number of American poor didn't budge, and that income inequality hasn't improved.
Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty, Catholic and political leaders have stated their intent to lessen poverty in the U.S.
I've been in a lot of public demonstrations in my life, but my very first was in support of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty. It was a large rally in downtown Pittsburgh, where I was teaching at the time.
And I actually remember the speech President Johnson gave announcing the War on Poverty in 1964. I cheered his words, and Congress at the time applauded loudly. But I have to wonder how our Congress today would react to those same words. A few cheers, perhaps, but many would be stone-cold silent.