Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Catholic Social Justice - Preferential Option for the Poor

Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.22And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”23But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”24 But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”2526He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”27She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”28 Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Matthew 15: 21-28

“The principle of the universal destination of goods requires that the poor, marginalized and in all cases those whose living conditions interfere with their proper growth should be the focus of particular concern.”  “This is an option, or a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity, to which the whole tradition of the Church bears witness. It affects the life of each Christian inasmuch as he or she seeks to imitate the life of Christ, but it applies equally to our social responsibilities and hence to our manner of living, and to the logical decisions to be made concerning the ownership of goods.”*

A society is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members.  How does the community share it bounty with those in most urgent need?  Do the poor get preferential treatment and access or do they receive the  “leavings of the table” of the more fortunate?
The poor have an urgent moral need that exceeds the needs of the rest of the community because of their desperate situation.  For example, it is more urgent to zone and build good, safe and affordable housing for the homeless, poor and disaffected who live in squalor -- unable to realize their dignity and potential than it is zone and build more shopping malls.  Their need is more urgent and exceeds the need for convenient access to shopping.
The plight of the poor should reside in the conscience of the community.  The community must work to not only satisfy the immediate needs of the poor, but also alleviate the root causes of their poverty and allow them a true voice in the decisions of the community.
Decisions of public policy should be viewed from the perspective of the poor and how it affects their plight.  It is the community’s responsibility to work for the poor, thereby working for the common good of all the community.

Deacon Don

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