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outline catholic teaching on wealth and poverty

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Jake Barker   11N      R.E   Mrs. McKenna

Outline Catholic Teaching on Wealth and Poverty

Christians believe that wealth is a gift from God which can be used for either good or evil, so in itself is not a bad thing. It is our attitude towards wealth and material possessions that is the main issue. Consequently having the wrong attitude towards money can lead you away from God. Christians should therefore only gain money in a moral and lawful way, as it is a gift from God and not their own. Jesus taught his disciples in the parable of the “Rich Young Man” (Mark10:21-23) the difficulty the rich face in entering the kingdom of God as they cannot give their worldly possessions to the poor.

                   The Old Testament had a long standing tradition of seeing wealth as a positive statement of God’s blessing. In Genesis 13 for example, Abraham is said to have been very wealthy in property and precious metals. In Chapter 14 it is apparent that God was the one who blessed Abraham and made him prosper. The book of Proverbs however teaches us “When you give to the poor, it is like lending to the Lord and the Lord will pay you back”.

                   This is backed up in the New Testament (1Timothy 6:9-10) “The love of money is the root of all evils”. This is re-stated in the parable of the Good Samaritan when Jesus illustrated the commandment to Christians to love God and love their neighbor.

                   According to the New Testament, riches must be used for the benefit of others especially the poor Catechism of the Catholic Church (1723) “True happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement, but in God alone”. Catholics believe that all humans are equal in the eyes of God and that all the good things of the earth have been given to humans by God to use to help each other. Catechism of the Catholic Church (2443,2445) “God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them…Love for the poor is incompatible with immoderate use of riches or their selfish use” This means that Christians are not just concerned about the poor in Great Britain “Rich nations have a grave moral responsibility toward those who are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves or have been prevented from doing so by tragic historical events”.

                  Pope Leo XIII was worried about what the industrial revolution did to the poor. In his encyclical ‘Rerum Novarum’ he said “A small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than slavery itself”. Pope John XIII wanted to see a balance restored between rich and poor. In ‘Mater et Magistra’ he suggested that more should be done to improve the conditions in farming communities. In “Populorum Pogressio” in 1967 Pope Paul VI pointed out that God intended the world for everybody but their was great inequality in the way resources were distributed. Huge amounts of money were being spent on modern weapons and countless millions were starving. Direct responsibility from the Bible and the teaching of the Church to it is a Christian’s moral duty to think about these things and act to change them.

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