What role can religion realistically play in the eradication of poverty?
Rev. GEOFFREY KERSLAKE is a priest of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Ottawa.
For change to take place, we must see the need for change and be motivated to be part of the change. Jesus Christ teaches us that the greatest commandments are love of God and love of neighbor (cf. Matthew 22:34-39).
Many times in the Gospels, Jesus shows God’s special concern for the poor and oppressed of this world in not only his teachings and parables, but also in his actions. In St. Luke’s Gospel, we see what we might call a blue print of his mission leading up to his crucifixion: “[Jesus] stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him.
He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’” (cf. Luke 4: 16-21).
A committed Catholic Christian models her or his life on the example of Jesus Christ and seeks to help and serve the poor and oppressed.
On the international level, the Catholic Church works to serve the poor in many countries by providing food banks, medical clinics and hospitals, schools and many other services.
At the local level, parish communities have outreach programs to help the poor both in the community and also internationally.
The Catholic Christian Church promotes love of God and love of neighbor as the two necessary foundations of authentic faith and through her many members is engaged in providing concrete aid to the poor and vulnerable but the Church recognizes the pressing need for more to be done.
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