Beyond a Band-Aid Approach to Poverty

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

In an interview with the Washington Post, Monsignor John Enzler, the CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington for the last 12 years, says:

At Catholic Charities, we have taken a different tact in the last six or seven years, which is: We want to not just feed people but to find a way to make sure hunger isn’t a problem. Not just get them off the streets, but find a place they can actually live. That’s changing. We used to do a lot of Band-Aids; now we’re doing more surgery. Band-Aids are food, a coat, shelter for the night. Surgery is helping them to move from poverty to sustainability. Let’s get them a house, a job, a place to live and move into….

Institutions across the country — not just the church, all kinds — are not seen in great favor. And the church, because of some things that happened, has received and deserves some of that. We’ve made our own bed. The work of social justice and taking care of people is the key issue of bringing people back to their own involvement.

It won’t be sermons in church that does it; it will be getting them involved in helping people and have their hearts moved that they’re doing something valuable, not so much religiously but just goodness and service, servant leadership that can become for many people a faith journey. It used to start with the sermon in the church. Now it’s the other way around.

As Pope Francis said: Go into the streets. Have people find, frankly, the presence of God in their life. Find that, and then they may find their faith. That’s my belief. They experience God, and there’s: “I don’t like that big institution of the church, but I do feel proud of being part of a group that’s doing a lot of good.”