Thursday, October 7, 2010

Poverty Not Always Easily Seen

 A country pastor writes in the  Kyeongyang Catholic magazine about poverty and how he sees it, living a middle class lifestyle. Even  those  who are trying to live a life of poverty, when it comes to consumption, most of them would fit more accurately in the middle class.

Priests  rarely  come in contact with the very poor in parish life. There are those who need  help for the  basic necessities of life, but it is a small number. Members of the parish who partake of community life have to have at least the bare minimum of economic freedom for the leisure required for community. This means, for practical purposes, that priests can be unconcerned about the poverty that afflicts many in society. Kyeongyang  Magazine

He considers poverty under three headings: absolute poverty, relative poverty, and subjective poverty. Absolute poverty refers to those who need help to meet the daily needs of living and this help usually comes  from the government.  Relative poverty refers to those who have incomes lower than the average, and gives rise to the discord between those who have and those that do not--the working poor. The conflict between these two groups  enables the government to be less concerned about those in absolute poverty.  Subjective poverty refers to those who feel they need more.

The Church has  declared  a preferential option for the poor.

"All things considered, this is also required by “economic logic.” Through the systemic increase of social inequality, both within a single country and between the populations of different countries (i.e. the massive increase in relative poverty), not only does social cohesion suffer, thereby placing democracy at risk, but so too does the economy, through the progressive erosion of “social capital”: the network of relationships of trust, dependability, and respect for rules, all of which are indispensable for any form of civil coexistence (Charity in Truth #32).

 Korea  has a living standard that is the tenth in the world. According  to the statistics, we have over 3 million working poor. This does not include those who live by themselves, the handicapped or the young who have the responsibility for supporting their family. The working poor have difficulties because prices keep going up but their income does not keep pace, making it difficult to pay for rent, education, and food.

The priest ends the article by discussing the place of the Church in the fight against poverty. The Church does budget money for the poor and works with the St. Vincent de Paul society and other groups in the parish to help them, but he feels there is not enough being done.

The Church needs to set a good example in fostering labor with dignity. Care must be taken that we treat fairly the employees involved in parishes,  hospitals and schools and that we do not have relatives of Church leaders in jobs that militate against fairness in hiring. The Church has to examine itself continually to make sure she is living up to what she proclaims, if she wants to be listened to.

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