Is there such a thing as a deserving poor and an undeserving poor?

Is there such a thing as a deserving poor and an undeserving poor? In the media, I see people use such terms as “undeserving” and “deserving” poor.

I was just wondering how Catholics think/feel about this.

Yes, the Church does recognize such a thing, we have to, as St. Paul told us to

For you know how one must imitate us. For we did not act in a disorderly way among you, 8nor did we eat food received free from anyone. On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you.Not that we do not have the right. Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us.In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat

2 Thes 3:8-10

If a person is capable of work, and work is available, a person must engage in it. Without doing so, the person has no claim to the charitable works of the Church. To claim

Likewise, the Church recognize that those who are poor because they lack skills, or work in unavailale, or they are ill (mentally or physically), or need to care for children or others. They are thus prevented from earning an income and are in need of the Church’s assistance

No and not in God’s eyes.

I strongly believe no, that there is not. If the Church teaches otherwise today, I am a dissident on this matter. As I have posted elsewhere here, if someone is “deserving poor”, giving unto them is not charity, but justice: in order for charity to be charitable (by definition giving a gift that is not earned nor deserved), it must be to those undeserving of the gift: it can not be justice (giving right restitution).

Moving on from the corporal acts of mercy, spiritually, everyone is depraved and undeserving (a cornerstone of any non-Pelagian teaching on grace), “for we all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God”: any spiritual gifts we receive are pure charity, as well.

Well, there are people who are poor through no fault of their own. (mentally or physically handicaped, survivors of natural disasters, small children etc.) There are also people who are poor due to an unfortunate pattern of bad judgement. So, I would say, yes, there is a difference. I think there is a difference in how one must go about helping them. For example, if my neighbor’s house gets knocked down by a tornado, I have no qualms about giving her $500 for lodgings and new clothes. I know that my neighbor is capable of using good judgement and using that money to help herself and her family. In six months, she will probably not be in desperate need anymore. Meanwhile, if my crazy cousin asks me for $500, he will most certainly use it on heroine. Giving the money directly to him would not help in in anyway and could even ultimately lead to his death, because my crazy cousin is not in his right mind. The best way to help him would be to give the money to an agency that can make a lasting change in his life. So, we are obligated to help those in need, but it isn’t always in the same way.

Actually, yes there is. Read St. Paul’s passage above. Being the Word of God, it would be hard to claim that God said anything in Scripture that God Himself disagrees with.

If a person CAN work, in that they are physically, mentally, emotionally capable, and work is available for them to do (employers are hiring), and they refuse to do so, then they are wrong. Any charity that they accept is, in really stealing from those who are in true need.

It is difficult for anyone to distingish, which is why the Church offers aid to all, but the Church would regard a provable case as theft, and it would be theft from societies most vulnerable.

Another example is the parable of the servants and the talents. If God gave someone the ability and means to earn a living, and the person ‘buried’ those abilitiy and means, God would hold them accountable, declaring them to be “you wicked and slothful servant” Mt 25:24

I’m with Brendan. I was going to quote the same passage he chose.

There are unfortunate victims of circumstance, and then there are the lazy.

At a soup kitchen, you don’t delve into it. If they show up and get in line, they get fed.

But other circumstances require a determination if they are deserving or not. I’m on friendly terms with a guy who runs the Outreach Office for a parish. They get requests for all sorts of things. But they have finite resources, so decisions need to be made whether someone deserves it or not. They get requests for money to pay utilities, or security deposits to get into a place, usual stuff. One case he told me about really irritated him. A woman wanted almost $3000 for first and last months rent plus cleaning deposit. So he pressed her a little. No, she had no kids. Then why does she need a 3 bedroom house? Why not a studio apartment? She doesn’t like people too close. Does she have a job? Can she pay the rent if they get her in a rental? No. She wasn’t going to work some ****** fast food job for minimum wage.

He told her no. She was undeserving, she wasn’t making any effort to support herself. And in two months she gets evicted and is back asking for another handout. She went to the pastor, who backed Pete 100%. This pastor is a Monsignor, with 40+ years as a priest.

Aquinas would disagree with you. He noted that there are four Cardinal ( or ‘root’) Virtues, (Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance), and the other virtues are sub categories of these virtues.

The works collequially known as ‘Charity’ (which is distinct from the Theological Virtue of Charity\Caritas) is a subcategory of Justice.

The exeternal acts of alms giving, care for the poor and the sick etc were acts of Justice, precisesly since they give a person what they are due. A sick person is entitled to care, simply because they are sick, likewise, a hungry person is entitled to food, simply due to the fact that they are hungry. He defined Justice and the proper moderation betwen self interest and the rights and needs of others.

I am interested in where you get your defintion of charity. It certainly does apply to the Theological Virtue of Caritas, which is a gift humans cannot aquire on their own, but is infused in us by Grace. But it does not seem to apply to the external acts that Aquinas referenced, and that Aquinas attributed to Justice.

Interesting question. The answer usually lies in why the person is poor and that also determines what kind of help they need.

The church has always looked on people’s individual circumstances and tried to match the help they get to their needs. That is one reason why local charity is often more successful than a huge state or federal program. Where economy of scale can help, it should be used, but at some the distance between the person needing help and the charity gets too great and then no one really gets what they need.

I think charity is better than state welfare, but the argument goes that if there was no state welfare, charity alone would not provide the resources, some people would just go the wall, but it seems some people may do anyway as some states run out of money because they have so much debt which they have to repay.

It seems that people who support a very large state tend to be atheists for some reason, but not always so, also countries that have socialist govenments also seem more atheistic as well, like Europe is more atheistic than America.

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