The president of Catholic Charities USA said it is “unacceptable” that there are 37.3 million poor people in the USA.

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Father Larry Snyder‘s comments came in response to statistics released Tuesday by the United States Census Bureau, which revealed that 800,000 more people are living in poverty in the United States this year.

“It is unacceptable that in a nation that is as prosperous as ours that 37.3 million people, including 13.3 million children, continue to live in poverty,” Father Snyder said. “At 12.5%, the poverty rate indicates that reducing poverty is not a priority for this nation.”

The priest said his organization and its member agencies serve nearly 8 million needy people a year.

“The poverty rate is not just another economic statistic,” he said. “This unacceptable figure represents the millions of families we see each and every day who are struggling just to make ends meet.”

Father Snyder affirmed that the downturn in the U.S. economy has worsened the situation.

“Across our nation, Catholic Charities agencies are seeing more and more people having to choose between putting food on the table, paying their utility bills, or making their rent or mortgage payments,” he said. “Needing help with food, rent, clothing and prescriptions are all symptoms of much larger problems facing the poor and vulnerable in America, such as low wages and the lack of affordable housing and health care.”

The charity organization has launched a campaign to cut the poverty rate in half by 2020. They are urging Americans to demand that their political representatives make poverty a priority.

“In this election year, candidates for public office — especially our presidential candidates — must move from rhetoric to action and propose comprehensive plans to address the needs of more than 37 million people living in poverty in the United States over the next decade,” Father Synder said. “We call on all Americans to ask their candidates, ‘If elected, what will you do to address poverty?'”

Rev. Larry Snyder – President of Catholic Charities USA

In February 2005, Father Larry Snyder took the helm of Catholic Charities USA-the national membership association of more than 1,500 local Catholic Charities agencies and institutions nationwide that provide help and create hope for more than 7.4 million people a year, regardless of their religious, social, or economic backgrounds.

Just six months after is arrival at Catholic Charities USA, Father Snyder led the network’s largest disaster recovery efforts in its history in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, in which more than 110 Catholic Charities in the Gulf Coast and beyond provided immediate and long-term aid to victims of the hurricanes.

Today, Father Snyder is overseeing Catholic Charities USA’s Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America. This multi-year, multi-faceted initiative aims to cut poverty in half by 2020 urging Congress and the Administration to give a much higher priority to the needs of the poor in budget and policy decisions on issues such as health care, housing, nutrition, and economic security.

Before assuming his post at Catholic Charities USA, Father Snyder served for more than five years as executive director of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis-the largest private provider of social services in the Twin Cities. Each year, the agency’s 48 programs provide services to more than 150,000 people in need.

Father Snyder was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1988 and served as associate pastor at Epiphany Catholic Church in Coon Rapids, MN, from 1988 to 1990 and Nativity of Mary Church in Bloomington, MN, from 1990 to 1991.

Prior to entering the seminary, Father Snyder was a high school teacher for eight years. Father Snyder earned a bachelor’s degree from Illinois Benedictine College in Lisle, IL. He also holds a master’s degree in divinity from the St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, MN, and a Master of Public Administration from Hamline University in St. Paul.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI named him to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the dicastery which oversees the Church’s charitable activities around the world. Father Snyder also the president of Caritas North America and serves on the board of the Independent Sector and is a member of the Domestic Policy Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He also is a weekend associate at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria, VA.

As president of Catholic Charities USA, Father Snyder is responsible for the overall direction of the Catholic Charities movement and the administration of Catholic Charities USA located in Alexandria, VA. He also serves as chief spokesperson for the organization and maintains key relationships with Catholic and other national and governmental groups.

In 2008, Father Snyder was recognized by The NonProfits Times in its 11th annual “Power and Influence Top 50” for having influenced the nonprofit sector during his career, as well as during the past 12 months.

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ALEXANDRIA, Virginia, AUG. 28, 2008 (