Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
“…Love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to [the Church] as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel.”
– Deus Caritas Est, “God is Love” (22)
While the common good stems from the dignity, unity and equality of all people, those who are weak, vulnerable, and most in need are our preferential concern, or priority. The poor and vulnerable includes all who are marginalized in our state, nation and beyond.
Those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a special love on the part of the Catholic Church which, since our beginning and in spite of the failings of many of our members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation through numerous works of charity. (CCC, 2448)
The preferential option for the poor and vulnerable is not optional. A basic moral test for society is measuring how we treat the most vulnerable in our midst. In a society with a growing gap between rich and poor, Scripture gives us the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and reminds us that we will be judged by our response to the “least among us.”
Poverty is not simply a lack of basic food and financial resources. It also includes deeper deprivations, such as:
- A denial of full participation in the economic, social, and political life of society
- The inability to influence decisions that affect your life
- A lack of access to basic healthcare
- An absence of opportunities to help ourselves, through such means as employment opportunities with fair wages
We seek public policy solutions that create a healthy economy and society, including employment opportunities that promote human dignity, increase social solidarity, and promote self-reliance for the poor.
For more, see our nation’s bishops Economic Justice for All (1986) pastoral letter.