The Catholic Church’s attitudes towards the poor
This statement from the Catholic Church’s 1986 encyclical entitled Economic Justice for All encapsulates an important dimension of Christ’s...
‘We are challenged to make a fundamental option for the poor – to speak for the voiceless [and] to defend the defenceless (EJFA 16)’ Analyse and interpret the above quotation to the Catholic Church’s response to poverty.
This statement from the Catholic Church’s 1986 encyclical entitled Economic Justice for All encapsulates an important dimension of Christ’s great gospel commandment to love one another. The Bible frequently emphasises the futility of relying on riches and the special place that the poor have in the world. In Old Testament times, God commanded the Israelites to protect the widow, the orphan and the stranger. Care for those in need was enshrined as one of the basic values of Jewish society. Later, the teachings of Jesus also underline his mission to the poor of this world. Whether in the metaphor of the rich man and the eye of the needle, or the parable of the widow’s tiny coin, it is clear that Christians are called to be good stewards of their own resources and generous givers of alms.
In the modern world, there are many distractions, and that is why it is a challenge for Christians to reject the empty materialism of our age. In many communities, however, the poor are hungry, and politicians are failing in their duty to provide for them. In such a situation, and in the international arena too, Christians are called to speak up for the vulnerable and to demonstrate their love through sacrificial giving. The exact definition of the poor can change from time to time, whether referring to orphans, the unemployed, those suffering from addiction and crime, refugees, the elderly or citizens of failing and war-torn states. God loves them all and it is the role of the Church to proclaim this and offer them aid.