Option for the Poor

Preferential Option for the Poor

A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.

Quotes from Church Documents:

  • "The Church's love for the poor . . . is a part of her constant tradition." This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. . . . "Those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation." (Catechism of the Catholic Church. . . , nos. 2444 & 2448.
  • The primary purpose of this special commitment to the poor is to enable them to become active participants in the life of society. It is to enable all persons to share in and contribute to the common good. The  "option for the poor," therefore, is not an adversarial slogan that  pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community. The extent of their  suffering is a measure of how far we are from being a true community of persons. These wounds will be healed only by greater solidarity with the poor and among the poor themselves. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 88)
  • The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for military purposes. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 94)


Poverty Statistics:

  1. Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day.

  2. 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.

  3. 805 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat. Food banks are especially important in providing food for people that can’t afford it themselves. Run a food drive outside your local grocery store so people in your community have enough to eat. 
  4. More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people per day.
  5. In 2011, 165 million children under the age 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) due to chronic malnutrition.
  6. Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children a year who are too poor to afford proper treatment.
  7. As of 2013, 21.8 million children under 1 year of age worldwide had not received the three recommended doses of vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
  8. 1/4 of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people.
  9. 80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day.
  10. Oxfam estimates that it would take $60 billion annually to end extreme global poverty--that's less than 1/4 the income of the top 100 richest billionaires.
  11. The World Food Programme says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

Statistics taken from:  https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-global-poverty



Material Poverty - Lack of sufficient material means to meet basic human needs

Poverty of the Soul - Lack of purpose in life, a sense of hopelessness about any lasting meaning

Poverty of the Spirit - Totally depend on God

Malnourishment - Body gets food but the food lacks the proper amount of vitamins and minerals for a healthy life - Leads to infection and disease

Chronic Hunger - Body starves and consumes muscle, fat, and tissue for food; immune system fails; brain function slows

Jubilee YearThe Jubilee Year was intended to be a joyful celebration of God’s sovereignty in which for His People there was:

  1. Emancipation: Redeemed by God, no Israelite can forever remain a slave. The Jubilee was meant to restore equality among the Israelites
  2. Social Justice: Equality meant raising up, as well, those who were in need. God’s Providence is for all, so the goods of the earth are the common property are all.

Sabbatical Year - Just as God asked for a weekly rest, or Sabbath, in his honor, he also asked for a Sabbath Year to be celebrated every seventh year.  The land was not to be farmed, debts were to be forgiven and slaves were to be let go every seventh year

  • Exodus 23:10-11 10"For six years you may sow your land and gather in its produce. 11But the seventh year you shall let the land lie untilled and unharvested, that the poor among you may eat of it and the beasts of the field may eat what the poor leave. So also shall you do in regard to your vineyard and your olive grove.




The video below tells about the charity known as Mary's Meals.