Friday, January 09, 2015

PREFERENTIAL OPTION FOR THE POOR



The Social Doctrine of the Church is unique in its teaching principle of the rather known and noble perspective of the “Preferential Option for the Poor”. Clearly, the particular focus and special concern of the Church social doctrine are the poor – the deprived, the impoverished, the marginalized – taking into consideration the following three fundamental truths:

One, the human dignity of every human person – irrespective of status and stature.

Two, the universal destination of temporal good – whereby everyone should have something thereof to live by, to keep life.

Three, the principle of the common good – notwithstanding the nature and import of the right to private property.

It is the social responsibility of all to be his/her “brother's keeper” - something that the public authority in society has a big role to assume and fulfill for the good of all the members thereof. This however does not mean that individuals in possession of wealth have no obligation of sharing some thereof in favor of the poor. The wealthier someone is, the greater as well is the latter's obligation of sharing his possessions to the needy, one way or another.

Considering that man is a social being – in a society he is born, of a society he is a member and from society he gathers his resources one way or another – he may not but also have his personal duties and responsibilities to society, i.e., different obligations to different social entities and different individual persons, the poor or destitute in particular. Human poverty is an eloquent sign of human frailty – a reality that finds its concrete expression among the hungry and the needy, the helpless and the homeless. The Preferential Option for the Poor” is so logical and proper, so right and just that it makes preferential option for the rich a disgusting predilection, a blatant shame. When there are individuals merrily drinking and delightfully eating while there are people painfully starving and gradually dying – even but the thought of such reality brings about disgust and repulstion.

Giving alms to the poor, handling food to hungry, sheltering the homeless – all these and more are some expressions of “Preferential Option for the Poor” in the same way that such charitable deeds are gratifying and praiseworthy. But enabling the unable – giving educational grants to poor children and youth, finding work for the jobless, granting capital for small businesses, financing and building cooperatives and the like – these are truly concrete expressions of the doctrine of preference in helping the poor rise up from their poverty. So it is rightly and justly said: “When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give what is really theirs, not ours. We are paying but a debt of justice.”