Preferential Option for the Poor

I was reading an article by John Perricone in the May 2014 issue of the New Oxford Review, entitled: A Caricature of Charity, discussing the preferential option for the poor, its birth in the liberation theology movement, and what it does to the poor, and these few paragraphs stand out in relation to the way some local homeless organizations see their clients.

An excerpt.

“It sees the poor through an ideological lens that not only makes the true poor invisible but also hides their intrinsic human dignity. They are no longer men, like all other men; they are the poor. No longer do they possess the dignity of high aspiration; they are relegated to being a permanent underclass feeding off the largesse of their “betters.” Rather than the Church’s rousing summons to strive mightily to be more, the ideologues cleverly teach them how to take more. They are thus deafened to the ancient Roman adage, confirming the timeless divine lessons: ad astra, per aspera (reaching the heights always entails struggling mightily).

“In the ideologues’ creed, the poor are to be pitied, never exhorted. They stagnate beneath the disguised soft discrimination of low expectations. They are thus forbidden from thirsting for truth and beauty, which is the patrimony and comfort of all men. The ideologues who promote the “preferential option for the poor” insist that all the poor must ever see is their misfortune. Misfortune defines them. Their lack of what others have becomes their identity. Their humanity is eviscerated as ideologues entomb them perpetually as the poor.

“This is a tragedy of immeasurable proportions. The Church, in all her interior and exterior beauty, is a treasure from which they are banned. If the ideologues truly looked at the poor, they would not see poor men, but simply men. They would not see the poor, but poor sinners, no different than the rest of the human race, …” (pp. 24-25)

Retrieved May 7, 2014 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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