ATD Fourth World

Serving the Poorest


Here is the description of the International Movement ATD Fourth World which appears in the Directory of International Associations of the Faithful, published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

* * *

Official name: International Movement ATD Fourth World

Also known as: ATD Fourth World

Established: 1957

History: The movement was founded by Father Joseph Wresinski (1917-1988) in an emergency housing camp for the homeless in Noisy-Le-Grand on the outskirts of Paris. He had also been born in dire poverty, and he devoted his life to bringing the poor back into the Church and to reintroducing them into society.

Father Wresinski exposed the so-called Fourth World: exiled families in every continent, people beyond the poverty threshold in which the destitute are no longer able to undertake any responsibilities or to exercise the rights enjoyed by those around them. Others must come along to help restore their self-confidence and their trust in humanity and in God.

The movement has thousands of supporters from every ethnic, social, cultural and spiritual background who are present to the very poor. At the center there is an interdenominational and international corps of volunteers who share their lives with them in totally deprived areas.

The movement cooperates with the Church authorities at the local and international levels, and has regular contacts with the various departments of the Roman Curia and with the permanent missions of the Holy See to the governmental international organizations.

As a nongovernmental organization, ATD Fourth World has consultative status with the United Nations, UNICEF, UNESCO, ILO and the Council of Europe.

Identity: ATD Fourth World is based on the following basic principles: Every person has an inalienable fundamental value and is called to contribute to the good of all; poverty is not inevitable, and humanity can reject it; protecting the family is the first means of resisting poverty; giving priority to the most deprived is the guarantee that all human beings will truly have their dignity respected.

The work of the movement is performed in the field using programs for infants, cultural initiatives (street libraries, courses for all trades, cultural circles, art and poetry centers, "shared future" weeks), continuing education and training programs for adults (people's universities); in society, through information, campaigns, publications and public events; with the large religious families, with reflection groups and activities in common; with the national authorities and intergovernmental agencies, through relations and cooperation of all kinds, proposing legislation, obtaining funds and subsidies.

Organization: ATD Fourth World is a federation of national sections established throughout the world along the lines of the French mother section. The establishing of these sections requires that certain conditions be met. It is preceded by the establishment of associations of friends of the movement. Admission to the federation is preceded by an appropriate trial period.

Membership: There are about 250,000 families, permanent volunteers, supporters and friends connected with the life and work of ATD Fourth World, in 26 countries.

Works: The movement has created the following: Tapori, a movement for children throughout the world, rich and poor, who undertake to build together a poverty-free world; Fourth World Youth, bringing together young people from every social background wishing to join forces to share knowledge and wipe out poverty; Permanent Forum on Extreme Poverty in the World, for individuals and small associations friendly with the poorest; the Institute for Research and Training, to support the study and training activities; the Joseph Wresinski Foundation, which was established after the death of the founder, to preserve and disseminate his intellectual, spiritual and philosophical legacy throughout the world.

Special mention should be made of the celebration of World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty on Oct. 17 each year. This was the idea of Father Wresinski in 1987, with the inauguration of the commemorative stone in honor of the victims of poverty at Trocadero, Paris, and it was officially proclaimed by the United Nations in 1992 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The stone bears the words: "Where people are condemned to live in poverty, human rights are being violated. Joining forces to have them respected is a sacred duty" which is also inscribed on the reproduction stone inaugurated in 2000 in front of the Rome Basilica of St. John Lateran, and completed with the words of Pope John Paul II: "No more discrimination, exclusion, oppression and contempt for the poor and the least."

Publications: Feuille de route, monthly; Quart Monde, published quarterly; Lettres aux Amis du Monde, published three times a year for corresponding members of the permanent forum

Web site: www.atd-quartmonde.org


Mouvement International ATD Quart Monde
107, avenue du General Leclerc
95480 Pierrelaye — France

Tel. (33) 1-3430.4610 — Fax 1-3036.2221

E-mail: secgen@atd-quartmonde.org

This article has been selected from the ZENIT Daily Dispatch
© Innovative Media, Inc.

ZENIT International News Agency
Via della Stazione di Ottavia, 95
00165 Rome, Italy

To subscribe http://www.zenit.org/english/subscribe.html
or email: english-request@zenit.org with SUBSCRIBE in the "subject" field