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Fr. Daniel Groody opens Catholic Social Ministry Gathering

The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, an annual event put on by the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, kicked off here Saturday.

The event brings together Catholic activists and groups working on social issues “relating to poverty, war, injustice and the promotion of human life and dignity” across the country and the world. This year, according to event organizers, a whopping 42% of the participants are first-time attendees.
NCR will be live tweeting some of the event, which runs until Tuesday. Follow the action @togoforth and #togogforth.
“Being gathered here today gives us a chance to reflect on the God of Life that’s being born in our midst,” said Holy Cross Fr. Daniel Groody, a theologian at Notre Dame University, in a keynote address.
“But we come here today because we also want to, kind of, stretch beyond our comfort zones,” he added.
In a 50-minute speech on the subject of globalization and the role of spirituality in addressing injustice, Groody rattled off a litany of stats.
“We have almost 7 billion people today, who are living on planet Earth…” he said. “If you were to proportion that 7 billion and put it into a village of 100 people, this is what the demography of our world would look like:
“Sixty-one [61] in our global village are from Asia; 10 are from Europe; 15 are from Africa; 14 are from the Americans; and less than one percent [are from the continent of Australia]…
“If you look at global income and wealth,” he said, “the numbers get rather staggering…Right now, 19% of the world lives on less than $1.25 a day; 48% of the world lives on $2 a day; 75% of the  world lives on less than $10 a day; 95% of the world lives on less than $33 a day; and the top 5% percent of the world lives on more than $33 a day. So if you make more than $33 a day you are in top the top 5% in terms of earning in the world.
“Now, in terms of wealth…if you have more than $150,000 to your name, you are in the top 5% of the world…” Groody said “This statistic came out last week…the richest 1% of the world will have as much as wealth as the other 99% by 2016.”
Another sobering truth that Groody mentioned:
”The richest individuals in the world have as much as the poorest 48 nations,” he said. “But the top richest 80 people in the world have collectively as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people, or half the world’s population.”
Groody furthered his 100-person-village “snapshot” of the world:
  • ”Right now…15 would be under nourished,” he said.
  • ”One [1] would be dying of starvation.”
  • ”Four [4] would die [from not having] access to adequate sanitation.”
  • ”Eleven [11] would not have access to adequate drinking water.”
  • ”Twenty-three [23] would live in sub-standard housing.”
  • ”Seventeen [17] would not have access to electricity.”
  • ”Sixteen [16] would be unable to read.”
  • ”Only seven [7] out of 100 would have a college education.”
  • ”Eleven [11] would have an automobile.”
  • ”Forty [40] would have access to the Internet.”
  • ”And twenty two, only 22, would own or share a computer.”
On spending, “right now, the military spending worldwide is approach $1.8 trillion,” Groody said.
“For less than one day’s military spending, we could virtually eliminate malaria in Africa. For what we spend in two days in the military, we could provide the healthcare services necessary to prevent the deaths of three million infants a year. And for less than one week’s worth of military spending we could educate each of the 140 million in developing countries who have never attended school.”
Groody quoted from Gaudium et Spes, paraphrasing “somewhat” in order “to take out the sexist language”:
“The imbalances under which the modern world labors are linked with that more basic imbalance which is rooted in the heart of human beings, where many elements wrestle with one another,” he said, paraphrasing a portion of the foundational document.
“Thus, on the one hand, as creatures, we experience our limitations in multiple ways; on the other, we feel ourselves to be boundless in our desires and summoned to a higher life. Pulled by manifold attractions, we are constantly forced to choose among them and renounce some. Indeed, as weak and sinful beings, we often do what we would not, and fail to do what we should. Hence we suffer from internal divisions, and from these flow so many and such great discords in society.”