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Catholic Social Thought Event Focuses on Pope Francis, Economic Inequality

December 3, 2013 – Georgetown’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life held a spirited discussion Monday night about the “Pope and the Poor” on the heels of Pope Francis’ statement Nov. 26 criticizing economic inequality.

The event, moderated by initiative director John Carr and attended by more than 500 people, included archbishop of Washington emeritus Cardinal Theodore McCarrick; Georgetown’s E.J. Dionne Jr.; Washington Post columnist and former presidential advisor Michael Gerson; National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez and Most Rev. Stephen Blaire, bishop of Stockton, Calif.

“From the moment of his election, in his choice of the name Francis, in what he says and what he does, our Holy Father is placing solidarity with the poor and vulnerable at the heart of his leadership,” McCarrick said. “We have the most powerful economy on earth and it is producing too few jobs and too little growth, not enough opportunity and too much inequality to permit all Americans to live in dignity.”

Remarkable TurnouT

Carr previously served for more than 25 years in leadership positions with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The initiative is designed to promote the education of a new generation of Catholic lay leaders and foster a wider discussion about Catholic social teaching and its role in the contemporary world.

“The remarkable turnout of students and faculty, Washington insiders and Catholic leaders suggest Pope Francis has lifted up the dignity of the poor and the moral obligations to work for a more just economy inequality in ways that cannot be ignored,” Carr said.

Putting the Poor First

"You cannot deny that [Pope Francis] has given a higher priority to the Church's social teaching, to our obligations to the poor, and to criticism of an unjust economy than we have heard in a long time," Dionne said.

Carr said the participants at the event all agreed that Pope Francis is calling on Catholics to put the poor first in their personal, religious and political commitments.

“He is telling us that we need to move beyond our ideological, economic and political difference to address the moral imperative of overcoming pervasive poverty in our nation,” Carr explained. “We may differ on how to do that, but we need to overcome the silence and stalemate on poverty in our nation.”

For more information, visit the initiative’s new website.