April 12, 2013

Letters to the Editor

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We must address genuine issues of poverty from the pulpit, charities and government

I would like to thank you for publishing Kevin Chaffer’s “Be Our Guest” column in the March 15 issue of The Criterion.

In his letter, he discusses the evidence that giving to the poor may be creating dependency and doing more harm than good. He supported his thesis with a book reference, Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It), by Robert. D. Lupton.

Chaffer’s statements are supported by Father Joseph M. Esper in his book, Spiritual Dangers of the 21st Century. He states, “A growing underclass in our nation has been corrupted by the ‘welfare mentality’ in which it becomes increasingly difficult or even unacceptable for disadvantaged persons to take responsibility for their own material and spiritual well-being.” They have learned to avoid work and devote themselves to leisure activities.

Furthermore, Father Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute indicates that we must teach economics in our seminaries in order for priests to understand how the free market encourages and even produces prosperity for all.

Chaffee’s points should be taken seriously by addressing the genuine issues of poverty which should come from the pulpit, charities and government. The Church teaches us to take care of the poor, and most people would not challenge this responsibility, but the real question is by what means we do it.

Pope Francis said during his recent inaugural Mass that the role of the pope is to protect all of humanity. Successful resolution of the problem centers around finding the correct strategy which will free the impoverished from dependency and assist them in meeting their responsibilities by fulfilling their roles to be productive citizens.

- John W. O’Neal | Terre Haute 

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