On Poverty and the Family
Continuing with his catechesis on the family, in his June 3rd Wednesday Audience, Pope Francis discussed “the vulnerability of the family in the conditions of life that put them to the test”—most especially the condition of poverty. The Holy Father begins with a reminder that the degradation that results from poverty and war cannot destroy “the special humanity of [the] bonds” of the family. Nevertheless, this dignity that always remains “should not justify our indifference.” Rather, “we should kneel before these families, who are a true school of humanity.”
Pope Francis made mention of the problematic and contradictory nature of today’s economy, which “is often specialized in the enjoyment of individual well-being, but widely practices the exploitation of the family bonds.” The poverty that pervades so many families today “is not just a matter of bread,” the Holy Father tells us. Families in poverty are hungry also for work, education, health and affection.
Social poverty, especially amongst the unemployed, can seriously test the relationships within families, sometimes to the point of destruction. The material factors that result from a lack of work or poor living conditions can have dire consequences for the family, especially in an age characterized by “consumerism and the worship of appearance.”
As a mother, the Church “should not forget this tragedy of her children.” Pope Francis said the Church must itself live a life of “voluntary simplicity…in its institutions, in the life of its members.” The Church “too must be poor, to become fruitful and respond to so much misery.” The Holy Father called his listeners to prayer and action, so that Christian families might become the “protagonists of this revolution of family closeness, which is so necessary now!”
Pope Francis reminded the Church that “the judgement of the needy, of the little ones and of the poor anticipates the judgment of God (MT. 25:31-46).” It is the mission of the Church, who herself is comprised of familial bonds, to do everything she can to care for families in poverty, and for the children affected by such situations.