08 April 2013

Why the Church doesn't do more to help the poor

I often hear it asked why the Church does not do more to help the poor.  Putting aside for the sake of argument the fact that the Church does more to assist the poor than any other organization in the world, it is certainly a fair question and one that we should not be afraid to answer even as we allow it to challenge our hearts.

To my mind, there are many possible and correct answers, but two stand out the most.

The first answer is that the average Christian has not yet taken to heart the Lord's words that "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).

There are, however, a good many Christians who have taken these words to heart and meet the poor each day, providing what help for them they can.

Then are other Christians who have a deep desire to help the poor but do not quite know where to begin because the government gets in the way of putting charity into action.

Consider this recent story concerning the Missionaries of Charity in Miami.  Thirty-three years ago Blessed Teresa of Calcutta visited Miami and established a soup kitchen there, which her Sisters have been operating every day since.  More three hundred people are fed there each day.  The Sisters recently "found a notice of violation with a potential property lien from a City of Miami Code Enforcement inspector posted on an electrical pole."

What, you, ask is the problem?  What code have the Sisters violated in their feeding of the hungry?
Apparently the sisters had never obtained a permit for feeding — for free and without using public funds — hundreds of homeless who see in their eyes the universal symbol of compassion and dignity represented by Mother Teresa.
“What kind of violation are we doing?” asked convent superior Lima Marie. “Taking care of the homeless and feeding them is a violation?”
The sisters felt intimidated because the notice ends with a threat: operating “a business without all required licenses is illegal under state and city law and is punishable by criminal arrest and/or closing the business.”
 Situations such as this is why the Church does not do more to help the poor.

I have met several people who, on their own initiative and motivated by love, made sandwiches and went about the sidewalks distributing them to the hungry and the poor.

These same sandwiches, which were made also for their own families, could not be distributed to the poor because, local authorities said, the kitchen in which they were prepared was not up to code.

The Church wants to do more to help the poor but is often obstructed by a government that thinks it knows better.

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