Reflectionson Poverty Prepared by the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development
I wish to extend an invitation to solidarity to everyone . . . this
means caring for the dignity of the person, but above all I would say do not lose
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus steps onto the lake
shore from a boat and sees a vast crowd. "His heart was moved with pity for
them" (Mt14:14). The Lord calls us to see a growing number of poor and
vulnerable persons. He asks that our hearts be moved with compassion for
the more than 46 million persons and almost 10 million families now living in
poverty in our country.
Christ's tenderness and merciful gaze go out to
them. As servants of Christ, we take the side of those suffering poverty. Our
Holy Father, Pope Francis, has given us a poignant example of compassion. With
him, we show our "loving concern for each and every person, especially
children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about."[ii]
As disciples, our challenge is to pattern society
on God's love, oppose injustice, and suffuse our common life with charity in
truth. While many speak of a recovery, today the economy still denies many a just
and living wage. Women and men still struggle to build a marriage and a home where families
Now is a moment for discernment for all concerned about the common
good. It is time to come together to shape a new vision for the future.
We must not be naïve about the complexity of the forces
and events reshaping our economy, nor blind to our own responsibility. As Pope Francis says, "In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn't affect me; it doesn't concern me; it's none of my business."[iii] This crisis requires
us to look at our world with fresh eyes, with a renewed respect for the dignity
of the human person and the sacredness of life.
Our hope is grounded in the Providence of God, the
presence of the Risen Christ in the Church, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
This Spirit prompts us to radical solidarity with those who suffer, and to
charity, "an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and
generous engagement in the field of justice and peace."[iv]
purifies our struggle for a just society. Hope roots our pursuit of justice in the joyful expectation of "a
new heaven and a new earth" (Rev. 21:1). And love makes us
capable of building the bonds of solidarity that can foster the common good.
The persuasive strength of Catholic social teaching,
"the truth of Christ's love in society,"[v]
gives us hope that the Catholic community, together with others, can make a
difference in overcoming poverty. It is the Church's duty to shed light on the
social questions of our time. The Church "cannot and must not remain on the sidelines
in the fight for justice."[vi]
In the next few months, we will offer some
reflections on different aspects of the present economic crisis. They will not be
exhaustive. They are meant to be a sign of our union with those who are
suffering, a strong message of hope and a challenge to us all to look
"The life and words of Jesus and the teaching of his Church call us to serve those in need and to work actively for social and economic justice."
~ Economic Justice for All: Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy
We are called to stand with the poor in this
difficult moment. Together, we must work to build a just society. The call to
do good, make justice your aim, redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea and
defend the widow[vii]is addressed to all. We need everyone's wisdom, reflection and action to
match the magnitude of today's poverty. We also need leadership worthy of the
challenge of the present crisis, "a new generation of committed lay Christians"[viii]
to search for new solutions.
As Benedict XVI said, "Be prepared to put your life
on the line in order to enlighten the world with the truth of Christ; to
respond with love to hatred and disregard for life; to proclaim the hope of the
risen Christ in every corner of the earth."[ix]
In joyful confidence, may this invitation be taken up by all.
St. Peter's Square, 01 May 2013
Homily at Mass for the
Inauguration of the Pontificate, 19 March 2013
[iii] Francis, Homily during Visit to Lampedusa, 08 July 2013
XVI, Encyclical Letter, Caritas in Veritate, 1
XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, 28
[vii] Cf. Isaiah1:17
XVI, Homily at Mass,
Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria, Sardinia, 07 September 2008
XVI, Message to the Young People of
the World on the Occasion of the XXIII World Youth Day,
Questions for Spiritual Reflection in the Parish or in Small Groups
are a people of hope! In the midst of difficult economic times, where do you
- How does our Baptism and celebration of the Eucharist lead to more intense engagement in
- What aspects of the Catholic perspective on economic
life inspire you? Which challenge you?