Monday, 13 January 2014

The Poor Are Always with Us: The Trap of Charity

The Pope has just named 18 new cardinals.  His choices supposedly show how he is refocussing the Roman Catholic Church's energies on its mission to help the poor.

Seeing as how that was Jesus was all about, the new guy's discourse and some of his actions do seem to be in tune with the best points of Christianity.  But whenever anyone starts talking about helping the poor, I get nervous.

To be sure that kind of concern is better than blaming the poor for their plight, the way a large portion of the Right Wing in North America likes to do.  Paul Krugman today once again points out how the Republicans may have begun to see that the blame game they've been playing is going to hurt them electorally.  "Republicans are in a deep sense enemies of America’s poor," he writes. "A party committed to small government and low taxes on the rich is, more or less necessarily, a party committed to hurting, not helping, the poor."

Here in Canada we have a government that gets tough with the unemployed while spending $2.5 million to advertise a "job" program that never existed.   That kind of thing is unexcusable, and another reason to get rid of the Conservatives as quickly as possible.

But on the other hand programs and policies that address poverty and inequity shouldn't be touted as a balm on the woes of the less fortunate, something that makes us shine in the eyes of the Lord.  They should be designed to support the dignity of their recipients, and be aimed at giving them their due as full members of our society.

Not charity, but justice, is what's needed. 

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