April/May 1998

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In our commitment to seek justice, we often talk about 'solidarity with the poor' or the Church's 'preferential option for the poor.' Below are two elements of such a commitment: 1) direct service to the poor, and 2) changing the social, political and economic structures that cause poverty. One foot of Christian commitment to the poor is in direct service with and to the victims of poverty, while the other foot is in our efforts to address the root causes of poverty. We need both feet to walk and keep our balance in today's world.


Helping people survive their present crisis in poverty
    Volunteer time, money, or goods to food banks, clothing centres for the poor, shelters for the homeless and those suffering from abuse, hospitals /health centres, educational and vocational centres for immigrants, refugee centres, and overseas relief agencies
    Visit the economically poor: the elderly, shut-ins, prisoners, and people with AIDS
    Support pregnant teenagers
    Provide quality education for the poor
    Transport the elderly to church, grocery, doctor, etc.
    Sponsor an immigrant family
    Provide services for single mothers
    Work to house the homeless
    Provide job training for the disadvantaged
    Tutor children and adults living in poverty
    Teach English as a Second Language to immigrants


Removing the causes of social problems by changing structures
    Get informed and think critically; this leads to action to eliminate the root causes of social problems
    Raise awareness of conditions and causes of poverty
    Support and join networks that address social problems
    Work with and promote groups committed to positive change
    Participate in co-ops or credit unions
    Monitor government agencies
    Change corporate policies that hurt the poor through boycotts, letter-writing
    Write letters to newspapers about issues of poverty
    Join political protests; call on our leaders to fulfill their duties fairly and justly
    Support people's efforts at self-determination
    Support political candidates willing to change economic priorities
    Write and speak to legislators on behalf of the poor; the marginalized; the environment

Adapted form the Campaign for Huamn Develoment, United States Catholic Conference, Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina

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