We Are Called to be a Church,
a People of and for the Poor
Ralph McCloud, Executive Director of the USCCB’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development, was the guest speaker at the Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry’s 46th Annual Dinner and Awards event on October 21, 2014.
A transcript of his remarks is printed here.
I am honored to be here with you tonight. It is always a pleasure to get out of Washington and be among folk, away from the polarization and bureaucracy, and to be with people in the trenches, in the vineyard with folk like yourselves who have answered Pope Francis’ call to make sure that no one is a “left-over.”
Tonight I was given a perplexing question to talk about: Pope Francis’ call for us, very early in his Papacy – and his exact quote was: “We are called to be a church, a people of and for the poor.”
I have wrestled with this, and I am sure that many of you have, in that we often wish to have a church that, if not one that is prosperous or wealthy, at least one that is doing ok. Seldom do we strive to have a church that is poor; far too often we want to make sure that our church is NOT poor.
After thinking about it, I have come up with what I feel are three characteristics of a church that is poor and for the poor. There is nothing magical about my list, and I would invite you to create our own thoughts as to how we can better heed the call and serve the needs of others.
Three Characteristics of a Poor Church that is Concerned for the Poor
1. Christ at the Center!
Christ has to be at the center! I feel that a church of the poor and for the poor focuses on the one who reminded us of what it is like to be poor, what it is like to be a migrant, what it is like to be imprisoned, what it is like to be hungry. Focusing on him allows us to see not just his poverty, but also his love and concern for the poor – and how he places the poor as a priority. He goes to the temple and unfolds the scroll and proclaims:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.
Read more . . .
Visit our Feature Archives