Vincentian Experience of the Poor
Let me state three things clearly from the Vincentian experience of the poor.
- 1. Most people are poor because they have been made poor. I know, of course, that there are exceptions. Some don't work hard enough. Some lack initiative. But the masses of the poor, the millions of poor in Rwanda, China, Albania, Haiti, Somalia, as well as those in the United States, are poor because human folly, prejudice, lust for power, violence, or greed have made them poor. War, oppressive governments, unjust economic structures, low levels of education create huge numbers of poor in the world. The poorest of the poor are usually children, like those with swollen stomachs whom you have seen on television, and their mothers who are struggling to feed them.
- 2. There are human means for eradicating poverty: human intelligence, human energies, wise human use of natural resources. We have some of those resources right here tonight.
- 3. Concern for the poor involves conscience, the inner conviction that we must do something about this problem. Concern for the poor involves creativity. 'Love is creative," St. Vincent once said, "even to infinity" (SV Xl, 146). Concern for the poor involves competence, the information base, the intelligence, the analytic skills needed for formulating wise solutions.
(Address at the installation of Rev. Donald Harrington, CM as President of St. John's University)