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What does the Church have
to say about poverty?
“Make Justice your aim…”
Isaiah 1:15
Tonight’s journey…
1. Poverty today: The
2. Catholic Social
Teaching (CST):
History and Context
3. CST in Action:
Individuals and
groups standing on
two feet.
Pop Quiz: Poverty in the
1. In 2009, how many people
were in poverty in the U.S.?
a. 10.4 million
b. 25.3 million
c. 38.7 million
d. 43.6 million
Answer: D.
In 2009, 43.6 million people were in poverty, 14.3% of
the population.
Pop Quiz: Poverty in the
2. True or False: The
number of families in
poverty is decreasing.
Answer: False.
The number of families in poverty is increasing. In 2009,
8.8 million families lived in poverty (11.1% of the
population). Compare that to 2008, where 8.15 million
families lived in poverty (10.3%). In 2007, 7.62 million
families lived in poverty.
Pop Quiz: Poverty in the
3. True or False: According to the U.S. government,
a family of four—two adults and two children—is
poor if it earns less than $35,000 annually.
Answer: False.
The federal “poverty threshold” in
2009 for a family of four with two
children 17 or younger is $ 21,834.
However, a majority of Americans
believe it takes at least $35,000
annually to provide adequately for
a family of four.
(Source: Poverty Pulse poll, 2000)
Pop Quiz: Poverty in the
4. True or False: The federal minimum
wage is $5.85 per hour.
Not on minimum wage…
Answer: False.
The federal minimum wage became
$7.25 per hour July 24, 2009. A
single parent with one child working
at this minimum wage full-time
every week of the year ($7.25 x 40
hours x 52 weeks) would earn
$15,080 before any deductions or
taxes—$240 above the poverty
threshold of $14,840.
Pop Quiz: Poverty in the
5. In 2009, what percentage of children
under 18 were in poverty?
a. 10.8%
b. 13.3%
c. 17.9%
d. 20.7%
Answer: D.
In 2009, more than 1 out of every 5 children
was in poverty (15.5 million kids).
Write down a few quick thoughts:
Which question caught your
attention/surprised you?
Did any of these facts anger/sadden/confuse
Turn to a person near you and share.
Headline thoughts for the large group?
Poverty is real.
How do we as people of faith
With Justice.
Write down your definition of justice.
What influenced your definition?
Share with the person next to you.
The Church responds…
…with justice rooted in Scripture:
“Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the
orphan's plea, defend the widow.” (Isaiah 1:15)
“You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the
LORD requires of you: Only to do the right and to love
goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the
robbers' victim?” He answered, "The one who treated him
with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise.” (Luke
The Church’s Response
Based on Biblical Justice
•Not about straight
correlations (“this” for
•About making things right
Right relationship
One another
Not blind…we see those suffering
injustice and act.
The Lingo
Catholic Social Tradition—Living of justice.
Catholic Social Thought—Reflection on justice.
Catholic Social Teaching—Teaching on justice.
“Make Justice your aim…”
Catholic Social Tradition
•Brings in the whole history of people,
places, events & movements following the
call of Scripture.
•Church’s lived and intellectual tradition,
broadly speaking.
•People: Dorothy Day, Thea Bowman,
John Ryan
•Movements: Catholic Worker
•Catholic Social Tradition: Christians
living out lives of justice.
Catholic Social Thought
Patristic and Classical
Continuing reflection today
Liberation Theology
Catholic Social Thought:
Christians reflecting what it means
and how to live just lives.
Catholic Social Teaching
The official teachings of the
Papal encyclicals:
•1891: Leo XII Rerum Novarum “On the
Condition of Labor” to 2009: Benedict XVI
Caritas in Veritate
Bishops Conferences:
•U.S.: The Challenge of Peace and Economic
Justice for All (1986)
•CELAM (Central American Bishops): Puebla
(1979)—the Preferential Option for the Poor
Local Bishops:
•Bishop of Gary: “Created in God’s Image”
pastoral letter on racism (1993)
•U.S. Bishops in the Northwest: Pastoral letter
on Colombia River
The Church’s Social
Catholic Social Teaching offers
wisdom about building a just
society and living lives of holiness
amidst the challenges of modern
Coherence through the years:
“The Church’s social doctrine
illuminates with an unchanging
light the new problems that are
constantly emerging.” (CV, 12)
Not old and outdated,
but relevant and
applicable to today’s
CST Values and Principles for Action
Dignity of the Human Person
Community and the Common Good
Rights and Responsibilities
Option for the Poor
Dignity of Work
Care for God’s Creation
Principles of Catholic Social
CST Solar System
Care for
for the
Principles = basis for all of
Catholic social teaching.
Issues may change, but these
principles are immutable.
They help us aim for justice in
our lives and the world.
Everything centers on
Human Dignity,
and all are interconnected.
Human Dignity
Cornerstone of CST
Humans are created imago
All human life is sacred—
from conception to natural
death and everywhere in
Dt 30:15-20—”Choose life
that you may live.”
Eph 4:23-24—”…put on
the new self, created in
God's way in righteousness
and holiness of truth.”
Human dignity comes from who
one is, not from what one does.
Community &
the Common Good
Human persons are called to be social.
Model: Mystery of God’s Trinitarian
We recognize humanity in
relationship to others; We are saved
through community.
Universal, not limited by borders.
Lv 19:9-15—Treat your neighbor with
justice and mercy.
Jn 13:34-35—” …as I have loved you, so you
also should love one another.”
We are diminished by the
suffering of others.
Rights and Responsibilities
Human dignity means that people’s basic rights are fulfilled.
We are called to respect those rights.
Having our rights is not the end; we have a responsibility to
make it possible for others to achieve and exercise their own
Am 5:21-24—God desires not
empty religious practice, but
true work on behalf of justice.
Mt 23:11—”The greatest
among you must be your
servant.” Rights come with
Fulfilling our
responsibility to
work for the rights
of others, especially
the poor.
Tell Congress to
Help Poor and
Option for the Poor
All people, especially the
poor and the vulnerable,
have a place at the table.
Not “optional” but
Ex) Parent & two
Ps 41:1-3—Show regard for the poor and lowly.
Lk 4:16-30—Jesus mission: glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives,
sight to the blind, freedom to those oppressed.
o“The obligation to provide justice for all means that the poor have the
single most urgent economic claim on the conscience of the nation.”
(Economic Justice for All)
Dignity of Work
We are called to our vocation to be participate through
work in God’s act of creation.
Everyone has a right to fair and decent work in which
their dignity is respected (safe conditions, fair wage, etc)
Is 3:13—Do not grind the face of the poor.
Jas 5:1-6— “…the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your
fields are crying aloud…” The misery of unjust wealth.
CCHD has provided nearly 8,000 grants to self-help organizations led by poor persons.
We are all part of one
increasingly interconnected
global family—regardless of
class, race or geographic
 Loving our neighbors has
global dimensions.
Is 32:16– “Justice will bring about peace”
Mt 25:31-46—Christ identifies with all people who suffer
oBenedict XVI: Solidarity is being moved by charity to see
our global partners not just as neighbors but as our brothers
and sisters. (CV, 19)
Care for God’s Creation
Genesis teaches us that all creation
is holy and a gift from God.
 We are co-creators with God and
thus must be good stewards of
Cardinal Sheehan School, MD
Gen 2:15— “The LORD God then took the man and settled
him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.”
Rom 8:18-25—All creation awaits redemption.
Mt 6:25-34—Learn to trust in God as creation does.
o“God destined the earth and all it contains for all people and
nations so that all created things would be shared fairly by
all humankind under the guidance of justice tempered by
charity.” (GS, 69)
Our CST sunglasses
CST gives us a unique lens through which to view the world.
We see things differently. Examples: poverty, the economy,
our own choices.
[Your face here]
Themes in Caritas in
Charity begins with justice.
Charity is not simply individual action or irrelevant to
structural reforms—“Justice is inseparable from Charity.”
There is one social doctrine of the church.
All of the principles of CST are united and
Authentic Human Development
Essential quality is that it is “integral,” promoting the
good of every person and the whole person (not just $$).
There is a moral dimension to the economy.
Economy needs a people-centered ethics to function
properly. Every choice is a moral choice; no “givens.”
Globalization is neither good nor bad; we must drive it
toward the goal of human solidarity (by our choices).
Thinking with CST
decision has a
(CV, 37)
Budgets =
Gas/Oil Change
Family Wedding
Best Buy
Fri-Sat Nights
You’ve never met this person.
What matters to him?
1% 2%
U.S. Federal
Strictly by
observation what can
we say “matters”
according to this
budget? (SPOILER
ALERT: See the
heading at the top)
How might our CST
sunglasses allow us to
see alternative
structures to our
budget? What “givens”
could we question?
Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
Practical Ways of Living a Just Life
Awareness: Justice Education
Direct Service & Advocacy: For Others
(“Two Feet”)
Empowerment: With Others
The Reality of Experience
Cross your arms…
Change is uncomfortable, unsettling.
Your UP experience will be different—uncomfortable,
perhaps unsettling.
Arms crossed < UP experience < Structural Change
Remember your CST shades!
The Takeaway
“If we love others
with charity, then first
of all we are just
toward them.” (Caritas
in Veritate, 6)
CST = a unique way
to view the our world.
Wear your shades!
Where is God in all of this suffering/injustice?
Where is God in these people, this organization, this
The Sun of Justice
“But for you who fear my name,
there will arise the sun of justice
with its healing rays…” (Mal 3:20)
Until then…
“Make Justice your aim…”
Isaiah 1:15