Our Church teaches that the need to promote and preserve the dignity of individuals is essential to justice. Catholic social teaching calls us to give preference to the needs of the poor and vulnerable. This raises an important issue that is often overlooked. Although we may seek to ensure that those in need receive the basic necessities, often the administration of social programs can sometimes dehumanize those who need help.
The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for military purposes.
USCCB, Economic Justice for All: Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the US Economy, 94, 1986
Therefore, we should look to the Gospels and observe how Jesus treated the poor and sick. Jesus gives a clear example of the need to respect those to whom we minister. We should periodically review our charitable programs and actions and keep Jesus words in mind, “…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) Let’s remember that we are ministering to the Lord himself.
- Which Gospel story about Jesus and the disenfranchised comes to mind?
- How might I apply this Gospel story to my own life?
Option of the Poor and Vulnerable Resources
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops