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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June 16, 2014: Ohio General Assembly Enacts Legislation (HB 483) that Helps Ohio's Poor & Vulnerable

House Bill 483 includes:

  • $10 million to strengthen Adult Protective Services across Ohio. The investment will improve the state’s capacity to protect older Ohioans from abuse, neglect, and exploitation and help ensure Ohio seniors live with safety and dignity.
  • $10 million to strengthen Child Welfare services in all 88 counties. The investment will build on improvements and outcomes for over 100,000 children and their families.
  • $16 million to improve access to child care, provide greater stability for working parents and provide children continuous access to early learning programs.
  • Increases the state's Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 5 percent to 10 percent of the federal credit. Unlike the federal EITC, Ohioans must owe taxes in order to take advantage of it.
  • Creates a $300 million Medicaid reserve fund with year-end surplus dollars.
  • Initiates two work groups focused on funding allocation to strengthen the adult protective services and child welfare systems. The work groups, led by Cynthia Dungey, Director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, have 90 days to develop recommendations.

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.

February 6, 2014: Farm Bill Passes House and Senate

USCCB and Catholic Partners Both Pleased & Disappointed

National Catholic Rural Life Conference: "Reluctant Acceptance"

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


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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