Who is Lazarus and where do we find him?

20 Sep 2013   |   Blog   |   Supporter action

Cover of the Social Justice Statement 2013-2014

On 11 September 2013, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference launched the 2013-2014 Social Justice Statement, Lazarus at our Gate: A critical moment in our fight against world poverty.

The Statement, drawing on the parable of the rich man and the poor man named Lazarus who sits at his gate, calls on us to reflect on who are the poor in our world today, and asks us to focus our attention on how we can help these people.

Helen Forde, Acting CEO of Caritas Australia, was invited to speak at the launch. Here are some excerpts from her speech.

"It’s just four days after the election and there are huge changes afoot across our nation. We stand at a crossroads in the fight against global poverty. As our Bishops say, we face A Critical Moment in the fight against world poverty.

As Catholics, and as the broader Christian community, in this moment we pause… We pause – and reflect – on the gift of life and the face of Christ. We pause – and reflect – Who is the rich man and who is Lazarus? This is the moment to hear the call of Jesus.

Australia is a rich, prosperous nation with a strong economy. Unlike the rich man, we must ask, ‘Who is at our gate?’ Who is Lazarus and where do we find him?

Helen Forde speaking at the Social Justice Statement launch

Lying at our gate in South East Asia and the Pacific are about 20 per cent of the world’s poorest people. They’re families, they’re children, mothers, fathers and grandparents too.

[And] excluded from our table, we find many of Australia’s First peoples and millions of the world’s Indigenous Peoples.

It is these people, and many more, who are the companions of Lazarus.

As our Bishops say in the Statement: ‘Their dignity demands that we hear their cry and respond.

As you know, Caritas Australia is the International Aid and Development Agency of the Australian Catholic Church. With the support of our Catholic community every day we seek to live out God’s mission in our work to end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity.

For us, it is about recognizing that God is the host, that Lazarus is the treasured guest and that the table’s sumptuousness is for all.

Lazarus is the treasured guest and that the table’s sumptuousness is for all.”
Helen Forde

As Pope Francis said to representatives of the United Nations in June 2013:

‘A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table.’

We are at a critical moment in the struggle to eliminate poverty, but it is a battle that can be won if our extensive Christian community unite and reflect on who is the rich man and who is Lazarus. This is the moment to hear the call of Jesus. This is the moment to respond.

It is a battle that requires the gentlest of weapons in response – our love and compassion. It is a battle that requires every one of us.”

Read Helen Forde’s full speech, as well as speeches from Bishop O’Kelly and John Menadue from the launch of Lazarus at Our Gate »

Back to blog