Church leaders must unite to tackle the gap between rich and poor

Church leaders must unite to tackle the gap between rich and poor

Simon Perfect writing in The Tablet

Covid-19 is showing that the Churches and other faith groups are on the front line supporting the most vulnerable. Now, the author of a new report by the think tank Theos argues, Church leaders must come together to challenge another social evil: the widening gap between rich and poor.

Foodbanks, a lifeline for many, including many who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, are often organised and run by members of local churches. In homelessness hotspots like Westminster, groups such as Caritas care for dozens of rough sleepers who are in a desperate situation, without access to food or even to public toilets. The pandemic has exposed just how dependent many people are on the Churches for survival.

Churches are doing essential work at the sharp end of poverty. But as the lockdown gradually lifts, and we face years of unprecedented economic crisis, it is not just the number of people living in absolute poverty (that is, with insufficient income for basic living standards) that is likely to increase. The gap between rich and poor will rapidly widen, too; the lowest-paid earners are much more likely than the higher earners to have lost their jobs, or to have been furloughed, or to work in jobs that expose them to the virus.

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