Preferential option for the Poor

The moral test of any society is based on how the most vulnerable are treated. God’s love is universal, so this principle does not intend that we should focus on the poor to the exclusion of others, but rather that we are called to prioritize those who are in most need of our Solidarity.


The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; production to meet social needs over production for military purposes.
- Saint John Paul II, Address on Christian Unity in a Technological Age, Toronto, 1984

This is an option, or a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity, to which the whole tradition of the Church appears witness. It affects the life of each Christian inasmuch as he or she seeks to imitate the life of Christ, but it applies equally to our social responsibilities and hence to our manner of living, and to the logistical decisions to be made concerning the ownership and use of goods. Today, furthermore, given the worldwide dimension which the social question has assumed, this level of preference for the poor, and the decisions which it inspires in us, cannot but embrace the immense multitudes of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without health care and, above all, those without hope for a better future.
- Compendium of Social Doctrine No. 182

… the mere fact that some people are born in places with fewer resources or less development does not justify the fact that they are living with less dignity. It must be reiterated that “the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others.” To speak properly of our own rights, we need to broaden our perspective and to hear the plea of other peoples and other regions than those of our own country. We need to grow in a solidarity which “would allow all peoples to become the artisans of their destiny,” since “every person is called to self-fulfillment.
- Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 190

Examples in action:

Development and Peace targets the most vulnerable populations in our programs overseas. During humanitarian emergencies, we work with local partners who are in the best position to reach and provide aid to the most vulnerable individuals, such as widows and single mothers.

Our partners work with the most poor and vulnerable, and their voices take precedence in our educational materials, providing a space in our Canadian society for these voices, which otherwise may not be heard.

Development and Peace promotes awareness of how our lives here in Canada impact on the lives of others – be it through our purchases, our investments, or our national policies. Some of our members pay more to have fair trade coffee, knowing they will either have less money to spend or less coffee to drink. Other members invest in ethical funds which may bear a lower return rate than available non-ethical funds, to ensure that the wealth of the world is fairly distributed.

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