Last week I attended the Midwest Regional Gathering for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Chicago. Besides updates on CRS Haiti relief operations and some very valuable information on the problems facing small farmers in Mexico, that to some extent fosters the desire to immigrate to the U.S, we learned about the process that CRS uses when it develops projects in foreign countries.
I was aware of how they operated in disasters like Haiti and the Tsunami, but I wasn’t that knowledgeable about how they approached the poverty problems in the countries that they work with on a regular basis. I was impressed by their process of designing programs. They first assess social, economic, cultural and political structure in the context of justice and then design programs based on protecting the sacredness and dignity of the human person.
I know that was a complex sentence, but to me it shows that they have a very realistic approach to involving the people not just delivering a set of “cookie cutter’ programs. They are working on recognizing that each country has different assets and systems.
*Note - Ken Bresnan, the Parish Outreach Liaison for Catholic Charities, is the Diocese of Des Moines CRS representative through his work with Catholic Charities' Social Justice Consortium which promotes the social justice mission of the Catholic Church through a coordinated effort to work toward a comprehensive and consistent ethic of life for the pursuit of the common good.