Marianists Propose "40 Days With the Last 40"
Lenten Campaign Focuses on Nations With Lowest Development
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MADRID, Spain, FEB. 8, 2008 (Zenit.org).- On Ash Wednesday, the Marianists of Spain focused on the situation of nutrition in Niger. Thursday they highlighted the use of girl soldiers in Sierra Leone. Today is dedicated to child discrimination in Mali.
Along these lines, the Marianist religious congregation plans to mark the 40 days of Lent by considering the 40 countries with the lowest Index of Human Development.
"Forty Days With the Last 40" hopes to raise awareness about the situations of the poorest countries of the world, and specifically this year, the difficulties faced by women and children in these countries. The Spanish-language Web site offers materials for the campaign.
It focuses on showing concern for the "last ones," those who are "the last in society [...] God's preferred ones, our preferred ones -- not because they are better than others but precisely because they are the 'last ones,'" the site explains.
The 40 countries listed at the bottom of the Index of Human Development are almost all in Central Africa. Haiti, North Korea, Afghanistan and Yemen also make the list.
The Index of Human Development, defined by the United Nations, takes into account life expectancy, level of knowledge (including literacy and education opportunities), and style of life. Canada is fourth from the top of the countries with the highest Index of Human Development. The United States ranks 12th and the United Kingdom 16th.
The Marianists aim to increase understanding of the 40 countries at the bottom of the list, and they encourage changing "something in our lives -- even just small gestures -- thereby expressing that we are willing to allow our concern for the Kingdom of God to affect something more than our sentiments."
The religious further urge prayer for the 40 countries.
The site includes a brief summary of the major problems faced by the countries, as well as an account of one of the victims of each situation.