If you wish to get a heated discussion going among serious Christians suggest that it is our divinely given responsibility to care for the poor. Then suggest that we ought to do something, anything is better than nothing, in the name of Christ to direclty alleviate hunger and to address poverty with real Christian solutions. Few will disagree with you a this point and all will agree that something ought to be done. But no two people are likely to come up the same solution for the problem at the end of the day. Conservatives will appeal to private charity as the best approach to the problem and liberals will suggest that government must get even more involved. And both will appeal to the prophetic writings of the Old Testament, the kingdom sayings of Jesus, and the need to demonstrate that the gospel we preach must show itself in tangible ways that really care for people in both body and soul.
Father Robert Sirico, president of Acton Institute, recently suggested in an editorial (Acton Notes, March 2006) that appeared originally in the Detroit News that Pope Benedict XVI’s recent encyclical argued correctly that “the attempt to create a loving state actually results in extinguishing the possibility for the exercise of love of neighbor.” For me this is the nub of the issue and why Christians so often debate the hows of addressing hunger and poverty without much agreement.
In Deus Caritas Est Benedict XVI actually wrote: “We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State