How much do we owe to the poor?

The world is full of injustice and unequally distributed wealth. I’m not advocating socialism but of following the Lord and the Church’s teachings of giving. Ten percent is a figure that is mentioned alot. How does a person justify a cruise vacation, a new set of golf clubs or even a pilgrimage to the Holy Land when it can be argued that that money could have fed a family for a year. In the movie Shindlers List the main character at the end lamented that he could have done more to help others. Is this the senario most of us will have on judgement day? Sorry this is more than one question.

Regards, Pete

Well, Pete,

The Church does not require that one must give ten percent to the Church. It teaches that we should give what we can afford. For some it is less then ten percent; for others it is more. You seem to be concerned about how much one should give to charity. This again depends on what you can afford and what your obligations are.

Your first obligation is to your family. You are entitled to some recreation. But we do live in an affluent culture–even in the current financial crunch. The Lord doesn’t ask us to give everything away. He simply asks that we share what we have. If you are going to buy a set of golf clubs, then give a comparable amount of money to charity. This may keep you from getting other treats for awhile, but this is the generosity that love requires.

I hope this helps.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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