Catholic Social View: Option for the Poor and Solidarity

Paul Keggington

March 10, 2011

Sister Kathryn  Klackner summarized the Church’s position on helping the poor and solidarity with the community and the world in March Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Discussion material used in all our convents. Here is a brief outline of some of this material.

Franciscan Care Services, West Point, NE, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, is in the midst of a construction project hoping to address the health care needs of all the people of the local area.
  • 1891: seminal writing of modern Catholic social teaching, The Condition of Labor, Pope Leo XII responded to the plight of urbanized industrial workers in the throes of the Industrial Revolution.
  • 1971: 80 years into the modern Catholic social doctrine era, Pope Paul VI in A Call to Action directly urged all Catholics to accept personal responsibility for justice.
  • 1971 World Synod of Bishops statement Justice in the World focused on the critical social needs of the day and the urgency for structural changes that incorporate justice into societal life.
  • Social documents placed social justice at the heart of the mission of the Church and brought political action into the realm of Christian discipleship.
  • 1986 Economic Justice for All extended the Christian charitable obligation to an evaluation of social and economic activity from the viewpoint of the powerless in order that no one is marginalized or denied rights and that justice is served.
  • 1987 On Social Concern Pope John Paul II advanced the consistent theme of preferential care for the poor to include a global dimension.
  • 1998 Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions American Bishops named Option for the Poor and Vulnerable as one of seven Catholic Social Principles
  • Pope Benedict XVI in God is Love reiterated that charity is an essential activity of the Church.

Discussion Questions: In this Lenten season, how do we meet the needs of the poor among us? How can we give a “voice” to the powerless in our local community? In what ways can we give an option for the poor beyond material giving? What charitable and just actions are we called to during this Lenten season?

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