Indiana’s Bishops Tackle Poverty

The Bishops of Indiana have put together a very good letter on addressing poverty. Here are some highlights of Poverty at the Crossroads: The Church’s Response to Poverty in Indiana:

  • As bishops who serve the people of God, our concern is for everyone, regardless of their religious affiliation, race, ethnic background, economic or social status. Christ came to save all humankind.
  • At the same time, we bishops have a particular obligation to care for the most vulnerable members of God’s family. That is why we pay special attention to the unborn, to the sick and the elderly, to prisoners, to those who suffer from various forms of addiction or mental illness, and to the education of people from many different backgrounds and circumstances. That is also why we care, in a very special way, for those brothers and sisters of ours who are poor.
  • The Gospels insist that God’s heart has a special place for the poor, so much so that God himself has “become poor” (2 Cor. 8, 9).
  • Are we incapable – or worse – have we chosen not to see our sisters and brothers who are poor? Are we blind to the impact poverty has on families, neighborhoods and entire communities and unquestioning as to its causes?
  • Experience teaches us that the family is the only lasting, solid foundation on which healthy societies can be built.
  • Work is more than simply a way to make a living; it is a continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected; these include the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organize, to private property, and to economic initiative.
  • The human person is what is most important, not economic theory or social structures.
  • Workers are co-creators with God in building the human community. Workers are not commodities. They are not instruments of production or tools in the hands of owners or managers, who are entitled to use them and then set them aside at the end of the day or the completion of a particular project.
  • A society that cares for the least of its citizens—including the unemployed, the underemployed and uninsured—is a society that will flourish in the sight of God and in its material and spiritual well-being.
  • The Catholic Church is strongly committed to education and, particularly, the education of the poor. More than two centuries of experience convince us about the powerful role that education plays in breaking the cycle of poverty and helping families, producing thriving citizens, workers and professionals.
  • For decades, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been unswerving advocates for comprehensive reforms that will lead to health care for all, especially the weakest and most vulnerable. We believe that health care is fundamental to human life and dignity.
  • We believe that health care is not a privilege, but a right and a requirement to protect the life and dignity of every person.
  • Do programs and policies place a primary emphasis on child welfare and enhance – not detract – from strong marriages and family life?
  • Poverty brings intolerable stress on the family’s ability to carry out its mission as the fundamental unit of society. Families are called to be stewards of all God’s gifts, and this requires an environment of stability and peace that can provide each family member with opportunities to exercise his or her responsibilities for the common good.