Showing Our Love for All: Option for the Poor

Showing Our Love for All

Catholic Social Teaching’s Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

As Catholics, we are called to pay special attention to the needs of the poor. We can follow Jesus’ example by making a specific effort to defend and promote the dignity of the poor and vulnerable and meet their immediate material needs.

This page contains readings, discussion topics, and activities that help to promote awareness of and involvement in God’s call to help those who are poor and vulnerable.


Scripture passages and Church documents that illustrate the importance of service to the poor and vulnerable, include the following:

Scripture Passages

Amos 8:4–7
Deuteronomy 24:14–15,17–22
Matthew 25:31–46
Luke 1:46–55; 10:29–37
John 13:1–7
1 John 4:7–12
James 1:22–27

Church Documents

On the Development of People,” Pope Paul VI, 1967.
On Social Concerns,” Pope John Paul II, 1987.
The Hundredth Year,” Pope John Paul II, 1991.
Economic Justice for All,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1986.

Discussion Questions

After sharing a reading with your group or family, ask some of the following questions.

1. Why it is important to help those who are in need?

2. How do we change by helping others?

3. What difference can we make as individuals and as groups?

4. How can we make direct contributions to those who are in need?

5. How can we work to eliminate the causes of poverty and other injustices?


Here are some ideas for service to the poor and vulnerable. Determine the activities that are the most practical for your group or your family. Keep in mind that no one can do everything, but each of us can do something. As Father Daniel Berrigan, S.J., said, “The difference between doing something and doing nothing is momentous indeed.”

1. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

2. Collect food to donate to a charity such as Operation Rice Bowl.

3. Donate clothing to an organization that distributes clothes to those who are poor or homeless.

4. Learn more about the products you purchase. Investigate who makes them and under what conditions they are made.

5. Save money from allowances or jobs to give to a good charity.

6. Visit a Web site such as and make a list of what you learned about poverty in the United States.

7. Read newspapers and news magazines to find out how local, state, and national governments could be doing more to help those who are poor. Write a letter to your representative expressing concern. (See and to find your Congressional representatives.)

In addition to these suggestions, brainstorm a list of other activities with your family to provide opportunities to serve the poor and vulnerable in your community. List all the places and ways family members can volunteer. Pay special attention to activities that families can do together. Think of ways your chosen activities can be fun and involve friends. Select one activity and agree to follow through on it for the next six months. Check in weekly on what you’ve done together and separately.