Option for the Poor

Poverty

“Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.”
St. John Chrysostom

Background

“The Church’s love for the poor… is a part of her constant tradition. This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to ‘be able to give to those in need’.” (CCC, no. 2444).

Action
  • Volunteer with CRS and Fair Trade (links below)
  • Write your local Senator to share the Catholic perspective on issues related to poverty such as affordable housing and health care
  • Volunteer at a local food bank
Resources

 

Homelessness

“When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.”  St. Gregory the Great

Background

“As Americans and believers, we are haunted by the tragic reality of so many without decent housing in our land. It is a sign of serious social neglect and moral failure. We ask everyone to join in a sustained and urgent effort to find creative and effective responses to this national tragedy. A great and good nation cannot turn away as people wander our streets looking for a decent home.” USCCB Statement Homelessness and Housing: A Human Tragedy, A Moral Challenge, March 24, 1988

Action
Resources

Catholic Charities: Preventing Homelessness

 

Debt Relief

“The debt problem is not simply an economic issue. It is fundamentally an ethical issue because it is radically a human problem, affecting the well-being of families, the survival of the poor, the bonds of community, and the security of the future.” —Archbishop Medardo Mazombwe of Zambia

Background

Increasingly, global economic leaders are recognizing an important connection between international debt and poverty. Many poor nations have huge debts that they cannot sustain and that drain much-needed resources. This has happened because of mistakes or mismanagement by debtor governments, initiatives by creditors that may not have been sound, or changes in global economic circumstances beyond any one country’s control. Now, poor countries are using scarce financial resources to make debt payments, often at the expense of funding for health care, education, housing, and other basic needs. This makes progress on reducing poverty and increasing development in these countries difficult, if not impossible. It also means that many of the world’s poorest people are suffering enormously and are unable to obtain services to meet their basic needs. Because the debt burdens carried by poor countries affect the well-being of the world’s poorest people and represent an often overwhelming obstacle to development, the Catholic Church has been a strong proponent of debt relief. Pope John Paul II has called on all the countries of the world to “reduce substantially, if not cancel outright, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations.”

Action
  • Urge your local representatives and congressmen to support the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and play a more active role in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and Debt Cancellation.
  • Talk about debt relief to our communities to educate and increase awareness on this issue.
Resources

 

Repeated Social Teaching

Community and Participation – The mystery of the Trinity involves the relationship of complete love among three divine persons in one God. As people made in God’s image, we must model divine love and know that the person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society in economics and politics, in law and policy directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. “Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.”  USCCB, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching:  Challenges and Directions