The poor / confession with a friar


#1

In Ireland this spring, I went to confession with a friar.

Among the things I related was a general unwillingness and a bit of bitterness in giving to the poor (not that I have much to give-- I still owe around 7,000 on school loans and have a much smaller than that bank account).

He replied, “here, the poor should all be on welfare which provides them with ample resources to live. The welfare system here gives them quite a lot. You shouldn’t be giving to them. The poor who really need it should be receiving through the Church-- most of these people on the corner are con artists.”

Of course, it makes sense. We’re not looking to get ourselves and our pearls trampled by swine. But nonetheless, Jesus’ other words haunt me. “As you have done for the least…”

What is right? Should I distrust the poor and believe they are con artists, or support them even if I am suspicious of their motives?


#2

I tend to agree with the Friar. We live in a society where no one is really forced to go without food or other basic necessities. When you give to a pan-handler on the side of the road s/he may not have the good judgment skills to use this money to his benefit. You may be hurting him more by providing him with money for alcohol or other substances. When you give to the poor via a charity organization (there is none better than the Church) you can ensure that the money is used for the purpose for which it was intended. If you want to help more directly, how about buying them lunch? How about keeping bottled water in the car to hand out to them? How about handing them YOUR lunch? Just some ideas. :slight_smile:


#3

Excellent suggestions!

I recently passed a beggar and he asked for money. I hesitated and then he said “I need $20 for a shelter tonight”. I gave him $5. After the exchange I realized that he had rattled off the “I need $20…” with such proficiency that he was probably getting $50 an hour!

In places where there are good government and charitable services I think one should be wary about giving money to beggars.


#4

Thanks for the answers, everyone.


#5

This is why I always provide my contributions to the specific charities (e.g. St. Vincent De Paul) and let them determine where it needs to go. I am too afraid that my donation to a begger will not really help them, but I know my contribution to the charity will aid them in someway.


#6

[quote="Boulder257, post:5, topic:335402"]
This is why I always provide my contributions to the specific charities (e.g. St. Vincent De Paul) and let them determine where it needs to go. I am too afraid that my donation to a begger will not really help them, but I know my contribution to the charity will aid them in someway.

[/quote]

I used to feel that way too. Private charities do a much better job at handing out money than the government and they are experienced in such matters. Then one day, all that changed for me. I realized I thought better of myself than I did of them. I was judging their circumstances where in some cases I might be right, others, wrong.

I don't think I understood the depth of mental illness in which some of these people are trapped. With all due respect to the Friar, now, I always give a little. My bank account isn't large but some things just strike me as being right.

btw, the Baptist church I was attending gives out $5 McD gift cards.


#7

[quote="Brandall, post:6, topic:335402"]
I used to feel that way too. Private charities do a much better job at handing out money than the government and they are experienced in such matters. Then one day, all that changed for me. I realized I thought better of myself than I did of them. I was judging their circumstances where in some cases I might be right, others, wrong.

I don't think I understood the depth of mental illness in which some of these people are trapped. With all due respect to the Friar, now, I always give a little. My bank account isn't large but some things just strike me as being right.

btw, the Baptist church I was attending gives out $5 McD gift cards.

[/quote]

That's a good idea. It might be a nice idea to always have a few handy for just such occassions. Thanks for the idea!


#8

Our Church has joined in the collection box for the ‘food bank’. A box is left at the back of the Church people donate tin stuff tea etc and when full it gets taken to a local charity who then deals with the food bank side of it. At least that way might reduce the professional begger type of begger who makes it hard for us to trust when the begger is for real. In UK there shouldn’t be any need as was pointed out because of the welfare system but sadly there is a great need. People loose their jobs and getting onto benefit is hard enough without the bitter pill of accepting benefit. Some of it is lack of education about how to balance income and expenditure in that society today there are a lot more monthly outgoings ie sky tv. I am on freeview and there isn’t any monthly outgoings and for me that the cheapest best way but when you are in full time work one doesn’t think of five years time may loose the job for whatever reason. You cannot not do anything because may loose income.

Welfare should have eradicated the ‘worst’ poor but it don’t seem to have worked very sadly. I get by, just. It isn’t any picnic or fun but one learns. I am lucky and have reasonble parents who help lots much to my sister’s disappointment who thinks I can just go out and get a job just like that like buying cheapest product in the supermarket. It don’t happen like that at all and I hate it when they talk about a lost generation of people without jobs and they are talking about young school college leavers not my age group of which many are unlucky enough not to have had a job at all ever. Am partly lucky in that I have had four part time jobs in my life and got time out through doing a degree. But we are the really forgotten generation as everyone wants the energetic willing school leaver, not the low self esteem adults that lost all confidence in things around them and deeply suspicious. Who want to employ adults that haven’t a lot of skill etc. We are the forgotten generation, not the ones straight from school/college/uni. I can’t even do an adult apprenticeship scheme because I got a degree and dont they can’t get funding then. It stinks and it doubly stinks when my sister thinks I am at home enjoying myself. My priest knows far better and tries to tell me it not my fault. But my sister seems to think I can pick a job just like buying a newspaper or something mundane. Just go and do it. Her imagination tells her I am not trying, never mind that I sought help this year and been told of aspergers. That the college has found am dyscalcius and doing my level two adult maths exam this thursday and my confidence, self acceptance and esteem is not there. SHe don’t know me and her imagination tells her. My priest is the only one who has any idea what is going off etc and sadly he cant just give me a job that I can afford to do.

Sorry, that is my rant and been on my mind all week this week coz am not poor even in UK. I am by standards but am on welfare and not really poor. But am a lazy dolelyt that enjoys themself kicking around at home all day doing what I want. So it seems and I wont say just how low I am but…
thanks and sorry.:frowning:


#9

[quote="englishredrose, post:8, topic:335402"]
Our Church has joined in the collection box for the 'food bank'. A box is left at the back of the Church people donate tin stuff tea etc and when full it gets taken to a local charity who then deals with the food bank side of it. At least that way might reduce the professional begger type of begger who makes it hard for us to trust when the begger is for real. In UK there shouldn't be any need as was pointed out because of the welfare system but sadly there is a great need. People loose their jobs and getting onto benefit is hard enough without the bitter pill of accepting benefit. Some of it is lack of education about how to balance income and expenditure in that society today there are a lot more monthly outgoings ie sky tv. I am on freeview and there isn't any monthly outgoings and for me that the cheapest best way but when you are in full time work one doesn't think of five years time may loose the job for whatever reason. You cannot not do anything because may loose income.

Welfare should have eradicated the 'worst' poor but it don't seem to have worked very sadly. I get by, just. It isn't any picnic or fun but one learns. I am lucky and have reasonble parents who help lots much to my sister's disappointment who thinks I can just go out and get a job just like that like buying cheapest product in the supermarket. It don't happen like that at all and I hate it when they talk about a lost generation of people without jobs and they are talking about young school college leavers not my age group of which many are unlucky enough not to have had a job at all ever. Am partly lucky in that I have had four part time jobs in my life and got time out through doing a degree. But we are the really forgotten generation as everyone wants the energetic willing school leaver, not the low self esteem adults that lost all confidence in things around them and deeply suspicious. Who want to employ adults that haven't a lot of skill etc. We are the forgotten generation, not the ones straight from school/college/uni. I can't even do an adult apprenticeship scheme because I got a degree and dont they can't get funding then. It stinks and it doubly stinks when my sister thinks I am at home enjoying myself. My priest knows far better and tries to tell me it not my fault. But my sister seems to think I can pick a job just like buying a newspaper or something mundane. Just go and do it. Her imagination tells her I am not trying, never mind that I sought help this year and been told of aspergers. That the college has found am dyscalcius and doing my level two adult maths exam this thursday and my confidence, self acceptance and esteem is not there. SHe don't know me and her imagination tells her. My priest is the only one who has any idea what is going off etc and sadly he cant just give me a job that I can afford to do.

Sorry, that is my rant and been on my mind all week this week coz am not poor even in UK. I am by standards but am on welfare and not really poor. But am a lazy dolelyt that enjoys themself kicking around at home all day doing what I want. So it seems and I wont say just how low I am but....
thanks and sorry.:(

[/quote]

rant heard.

That's rampant state sponsored and financed capitalism for you.:(


#10

I gave to a panhandler yesterday though I generally don’t. He was elderly and looked genuinely frail. I gave him some spare loonies, $4 worth (Canadians will know what a “loonie” is :wink: )

Some people do fall through the cracks of the social welfare system. In Montreal (where I was yesterday), there’s an issue with both addicts, and people needing of psychiatric care, being on the streets. These people have genuine needs and the system either can’t cope, or can’t find all of them. The guy yesterday was an extreme case. On the other hand some punks begging up the street had a sign that said “we’re honest, it’s for beer and poutine” (a local dish). No way. They looked fit, and had a dog. It wouldn’t be charity to enable them.

Once when had a bit more time on my hands, a scruffy-looking guy that hangs around the bus terminal near my work asked for money for lunch and bus fare. I think he’s either a psychiatric case or an addict; sometimes he’s coherent, sometimes not. I said I’ll give you the bus fare but I’ll buy you lunch". It was at the bus terminal and I bought him a sub and a juice. He seemed genuinely grateful. He really was hungry.

At least I knew his immediate need was being met.

I don’t do it often enough.

I think it’s a mistake to assume that street people always have the wherewithal to get themselves on assistance. There are many truly sorrowful cases out there. They will always be with us. Matthew 25 & all…


#11

Thank you for this


#12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.