The Zero Poverty campaign was launched by the aid agency today at the European Parliament in Brussels.
The presentation was given to the by Erny Gillen, president of Caritas Europa and representatives of Caritas Italy, Paolo Pezzana and Patrizia Cappelletti.
They presented the campaign's vision "of a different world, in which no one is forced to live on the streets or dies prematurely because they cannot afford health care."
"Poverty is a scandal," Caritas Europa affirmed in a press release today, and is "unacceptable in the 21st century."
Also for this European Year, Caritas published a Poverty Paper, in which it stated that this social ill is more than a lack of financial resources.
Poverty is a "lack of well-being," the communiqué stated. "Naturally, a lack of basic means is an extremely common cause of emotional and psychological distress."
In that sense, the agency called for the support and strengthening of the "three traditional sources of social welfare: the labor market, the family, and the welfare state."
In this way, it added, "the poor and socially excluded can become truly self-sufficient and restore the dignity that has been robbed from them by the stigma of poverty."
"Society has to tackle poverty's root causes rather than merely respond to its consequences," the Caritas statement affirmed.
It continued, "If the fight against poverty and social exclusion is to be sustained, more emphasis must be placed on what policies can do to prevent the spiral of poverty from taking place, particularly in the early stages of an individual's life."
The agency is sponsoring a petition to lobby national governments in Europe and supranational institutions for certain actions in the fight against poverty.
This Petition Against Poverty calls for four steps: "End child poverty by guaranteeing allowances for every child in Europe, regardless of the status of their parents; secure a minimum standard of social security for all; guarantee universal health care and strengthen the welfare state; take active steps to ensure decent jobs with decent wages."
The agency aims to obtain 1 million signatures from citizens of a variety of member states.
It noted the hope that this year will challenge many people and institutions to "look at poverty through new eyes."
Caritas called for "everybody who cares about combating poverty" to make a stand that "will get people talking, thinking and acting."
To this end, it is offering concrete actions against poverty on its campaign Web site.
"Poverty is everybody's concern," the communiqué stated. "Act now for a better future!"
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On the Net:
Zero Poverty Campaign: www.zeropoverty.org