Systemic Poverty

Protecting our common home for generations to come

The superfluities of the rich are the necessities of the poor. When you possess superfluities, you possess what belongs to others."

- Saint Augustine (Exposition on Psalm 147, 12)

The Issue at Hand

According to the PovertyUSA.org, approximately 1 in 10 U.S. citizens live below the poverty line. This includes 1 out of every 6 children.  Over 550 thousand people experience homelessness on any given night.  2 .5 million children experience homelessness each year. 11% of all households experience hunger.  Hunger and homelessness disproportionately impact minorities, immigrants, those attempting to re-enter society after incarceration, and those who suffer with addiction and other mental illnesses.

The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first. More on Option for the Poor and Vulnerable.

What St. Augustine Says

1,600 years ago, Saint Augustine taught that following Christ involves a concern for the common good. As Augustine states in the Rule which governs the Augustinian way of life, the more concerned we are about the common good, the more progress we have made in our spiritual journey (Rule, V).  One of the foundational principles of the Augustine’s sense of community was sharing all things in common, distributing the goods to each according to need.

How to Respond

Both Augustine and Catholic Social Teaching invite us to a discussion on how to care for the poor and vulnerable in our society.  This involves both works of charity to meet the immediate needs of those who suffer from poverty and works of justice to eliminate the systemic causes of poverty.

Reflect & Respond Today

1 Pray

United with us in prayer for the poor

2 Reflect

Discover an Augustinian perspective on systemic poverty

3 Take Action

Discover ways to get involved in the fight against systemic poverty

4 Stay Tuned

Stay tuned to discover future opportunities to learn more and respond.