Fighting Poverty and Promoting Peace in Our Families, Communities, and Common Home
In word and deed, Pope Francislifts up the plight of people living in poverty. He challenges us to go forth
and serve those at the margins while fighting for a more just and equitable
world that excludes no one.
All people have a right to food,
shelter, security, and work, as well as a responsibility to ensuring others'
human needs are met as well. Every day in every corner of the world, the
Catholic Church--Catholic Charities, the Catholic Campaign for Human
Development, Catholic Relief Services, and thousands of schools, hospitals,
parishes, and NGOs--does this work to draw a 'Circle of Protection' around the 'least
The federal budget includes
powerful and effective life-saving antipoverty programs that protect vulnerable
people and families as well.
United States Government supports international development and humanitarian
programs in many countries in the developing world. The Catholic Church does
not support all U.S. international assistance programs, but places a priority
on poverty-reduction programs that save lives, reduce crushing poverty, and
build peace and security in the world.
to popular perceptions that international assistance is 20% of the federal
budget, it is only about one-half percent (0.6%) of the budget.
addresses the plight of refugees fleeing war in Syria and Iraq, treats
disease outbreaks like Ebola, and helps victims of natural disasters like
typhoons in the Philippines. It has saved thousands of lives. International development
assistance protects human dignity by
helping people work their way out of poverty. It is an investment in
long-term peace and stability that cannot be gained by military action alone.
These programs protect health, provide access to water and education, and
help farmers produce more food and connect to markets.
good governance and democracy, strengthen civil society, build peace, and
address the root causes of conflict. In
the long run these programs avoid the outbreak of violence and create a more
should continue funding these critical humanitarian and development programs
that provide security and opportunity for some of the most vulnerable people
in the world.
richest and most prosperous country in the world, over 45 million people live
younger you are, the more likely you are to live in poverty. One in five
children live below the poverty line; and 23% or all children under six do.
16 million children live in food-insecure households. Programs such as SNAP (food stamps); Women,
Infants, and Children (WIC); School Lunches; and other food assistance
are effective and must be protected to fight poverty and hunger.
country has an affordable housing crisis. Housing is a human right, yet only
1 in 4 households that needs assistance actually gets it. Government programs
assistance, public housing, housing for the elderly and people with disabilities,
and other housing and community development programs
help fill this gap and should be supported.
work at a just wage is critical for healthy families and communities. The
government supports work by funding workforce development, re-entry of
the formerly incarcerated, and other initiatives
that create decent jobs in communities.
most effective tools to fight child poverty are the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child
Tax Credit. Taken together, they decrease
child poverty by over 6%. Recent expansions that have saved millions more
from poverty should be protected.
Teaching on Poverty and
the Common Good
individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God
for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully
a part of society. This demands that we be docile and attentive to the cry of
the poor and to come to their aid. (Evangelii
Gaudium, no. 187)
command to his disciples: "You yourselves give them something to eat!" (Mk 6:37)…
means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor, as
well as small daily acts of solidarity in meeting the real needs which we
encounter…. (no. 188)
The need to
resolve the structural causes of
poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its
urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and
frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. (no. 202)
faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but
rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.
Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty,
restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature. (Laudato Si', no. 139)
international level, inequality of resources and economic capability is such
that it creates a real "gap" between nations. On the one side there are those
nations possessing and developing the means of growth and, on the other, those
accumulating debts. Various causes of a religious, political, economic, and
financial nature today give "the social question a worldwide dimension." There
must be solidarity among nations which are already politically interdependent.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos.
is failing many of our children. Our world is a hostile and dangerous place for
millions of children…. We seek to shape a society--and a world--with a clear
priority for families and children in need and to contribute to the development
of policies that help families protect their children's lives and overcome the
moral, social, and economic forces that threaten their future. (Putting Children and Families First,
from the Introduction)
Catholic tradition, concern for the poor is advanced by individual and common
action, works of charity, efforts to achieve a more just social order, the
practice of virtue, and the pursuit of justice in our own lives. It requires
action to confront structures of injustice that leave people poor. (A Place at the Table, pg. 14)
we seek for all rests on these four institutions, or legs: (1) what families
and individuals can do, (2) what community and religious institutions can do,
(3) what the private sector can do, and (4) what the government can do to work
together to overcome poverty…. The Catholic way is to recognize the essential
role and the complementary responsibilities of families, communities, the
market, and government to work together to overcome poverty and advance human
dignity. (A Place at the Table, pg.
The principle of subsidiarity
reminds us that larger institutions in society should not overwhelm or
interfere with smaller or local institutions, yet larger institutions have
essential responsibilities when the more local institutions cannot adequately
protect human dignity, meet human needs, and advance the common good. (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,