Monthly Archives: February 2014

Poverty through a Catholic Lens

“Poverty is a condition of the human person – one in which he or she is deprived of the practical creativity given by God and characterized by the inability to provide for oneself and contribute to the greater good due to a lack of resources and connections.” 

278681_10150702014335125_5390793_oThe problem of poverty is not a simple one, otherwise we would have solved it by now. Think tanks and media can often flood us with more facts than information. When we hear things like 15 million vacant homes in the US, we become primed toward easy but very unhelpful solutions like giving away vacant homes(especially before even asking questions about why they are vacant).

“Having a heart for the poor isn’t hard. Can we have a mind for the poor? Can you really relate to the poor on a one-to-one basis as equals as partners as colleagues?” excerpt from Poverty Cure videos provided below

Define Poverty: Many theorists have tried to define poverty, but in general they all address poverty as a lacking of normal means. This can be applied to the slums in Kenya where post-colonialist life left an exploited people even less connected with the world. The problem is no longer as much that they are exploited as that they are now even more disconnected from the developing world.

It can also be applied to remote villages in Haiti where the world’s best rum is produced but there are no roads to transport it to the market. Without a clear definition, researchers refer to statistics on how many people are living in an area on just $1 per day- but that does not appreciate the fullness of the problem.

Poverty is a condition of the human person – one in which he or she is deprived of the practical creativity given by God and characterized by the inability to provide for oneself and contribute to the greater good due to a lack of resources and connections. 

Catholic Lens: First and foremost, the Church reminds us that the human person is always due dignity and justice. One of the benefits of the Catholic Church as a multi-national organization is that it is more possible to appreciate the complexity and depth of Christian mission work, guided by the Holy Spirit, and how he inspires individuals of all walks of life to work toward bettering lives and bringing people to Christ. People from every demographic and wealth class are unified by this belief that Jesus Christ is the universal savior, thus necessitating a spirit of equality and greater appreciation of human dignity for those suffering in poverty.

A meeting of Catholic non-governmental organizations ahead of a meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council in Geneva. -July 2011

A meeting of Catholic non-governmental organizations ahead of a meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council in Geneva. July 2011

Once the paradigm shifts to a lens that shows impoverished people as equals, it becomes obvious that they are also the source of a solution. The Catholic Church clearly states that governments have a role in guaranteeing that the people are not taken advantage of, that corruption does not inhibit human drive, and that society works to make sure basic human needs are met. Continue reading