Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

While the common good embraces all, those who are weak, vulnerable, and most in need deserve preferential concern. A basic moral test for our society is how we treat the most vulnerable in our midst. In a society marred by deepening disparities between rich and poor, Scripture gives us the story of the Last Judgment (see MT 25:31-46) and reminds us that we will be judged by our response to the “least among us.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

"Those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation through numerous works of charity which remain indispensable always and everywhere. (no. 2448)"

Pope Benedict XVI has taught that “love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to [the Church] as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel” (Deus Caritas Est, no. 22). This preferential option for the poor and vulnerable includes all who are marginalized in our nation and beyond—the unborn, persons with disabilities, the elderly and terminally ill, and victims of injustice and oppression.

Welfare policy should reduce poverty and dependency, strengthen family life, and help families leave poverty through work, training, and assistance with child care, health care, housing, and transportation. It should also provide a safety net for those who cannot work. Improving the Earned Income Tax Credit and child tax credits, available as refunds to families in greatest need, will help lift low-income families out of poverty.

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August 2013: Hope In A Time Of Poverty
Reflections on Poverty Prepared by the Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development

Hope in a Time of Poverty: Introduction

"I wish to extend an invitation to solidarity to everyone . . . this means caring for the dignity of the person, but above all I would say do not lose hope."
~ Pope Francis, General Audience, St. Peter's Square, 01 May 2013

USCCB Resources on Unemployment and Poverty

Advocates For Ohio's Future has pulled together an interactive map of Ohio counties indicating the local trends in Medicaid, SNAP (Food Stamps), and Unemployment from 2007 - 2011.

The Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks and the Coalition on Human Needs have issued a Report (June, 2012) on the Impact of the Federal Budget Control Act of 2011 on Ohio's Children, Families and Workers.

Catholic Conference of Ohio Poverty Report. November 2011

National Catholic Rural Life Conference Poverty & Hunger Guide

NCRLC offers an educational resource titled "Food Security and Economic Justice: A Faith-Based Study Guide on Poverty and Hunger." This study guide applies Catholic social teaching to the problems of hunger and poverty in a world of abundance, and how we can act to resolve this contradiction. The study guide can be used for individual learning or group discussions.

August 7, 2013: House Leaders Plan to Slash Nutrition Programs in Farm Bill

SNAP (or food stamps) is a crucial part of the Farm Bill. Cuts or structural changes to the program will harm poor and low-income families. This federal food assistance program helps relieve pressure on overwhelmed parishes, charities, food banks and other emergency food providers who struggle to meet the needs of hungry people.

However, House Republicans plan to make cuts of $40 billion to the nation's food stamp program, doubling the size of the reduction to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Aid Program (SNAP) previously sought in the unprecedented fracas over the 2013 Farm Bill. The figure is ten times the $4 billion cut to nutrition aid approved in the Senate version of the farm bill.

Federal nutrition assistance programs currently reach more than 47 million Americans who have demonstrated eligibility. This latest proposal by House Republicans -- due to be taken up after the August recess -- could mean more than 4 million recipients would be cut from the program annually.

Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, commenting on these new proposals, called the unwillingness of some members of Congress to compromise on important legislation "irresponsible."

Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD)

CCHD Video: Explains Work of Catholic Campaign for Human Development

CCHD website

Parish Resources

Bishops' Statements/Teachings

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Chapter Seven, Economic Life. Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, 2005.

Ohio Bishops' Campaign to End Poverty Proposal, 2007

Fair and Adequate Tax Reform May 21, 2004

A Place at the Table, USCCB, November 13, 2002

Economic Justice For All, USCCB, November 13, 1986


Congress is on recess from August 5 through September 6, 2013. During this time, act with and for your brothers and sisters in need:

Take Action on Food Stamps, Immigration Reform and the Budget. Tell your congressional representatives to support SNAP (food stamps), pass bi-partisan immigration reform and support a budget that helps people struggling in this economy.

Visit, call or write your congresspersons.

Ohio Public Assistance Payment Standards 2013 Catholic Conference of Ohio
Balancing an Ohio Works First Budget 2013 - Catholic Conference of Ohio Worksheet


This Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Resource helps Ohio's unemployed workers learn more about the programs and resources available to them, from both the government and the private sector.

Includes links regarding Ohio Poverty Statistics and National Poverty Campaigns. CLICK HERE

Catholic Conference of Ohio Poverty Report. November 2011

Strategic Recommendations for Expanding Opportunity and Reducing Poverty in Ohio
The Ohio Anti-Poverty Task Force 4/28/09

Governor Strickland's Final Report, Poverty Task Force 4/28/2009

Response to Poverty Task Force Report 9/08. CLICK HERE

Ohio Poverty Task Force Short-Term Recommendations, 9/08. CLICK HERE

Powerpoint Presentation on Ohio Poverty Trends. 9/08.

Powerpoint Poverty presentation: includes poverty quiz and background on CCUSA Poverty Campaign 2007 . CLICK HERE

Ohio Public Assistance Payment Standards 2013 Catholic Conference of Ohio

Balancing an Ohio Works First Budget 2013 - Catholic Conference of Ohio Worksheet

Tour of Poverty in the USA - Animated website by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, nccbuscc.org (Macromedia Flash player required)

Need More Information

Contact Jim Tobin , 614-224-7147

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