by Prof. David O'Brien
Washington Post "On Faith" blog
14 Nov 2011
As the American Catholic bishops gather for their semi-annual meeting this week, the poor are again knocking at their door. Despite all their divisions, American Catholics, indeed all American Christians, agree on at least one thing: God wants them to take care of poor people.
If you can't check that out in recent polls, visit almost any church in rich suburbs or poverty neighborhoods and you will find a box asking donations for people in need. Catholics take pride in Catholic Charities, the nation's largest private social service network, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the church's almost fifty year old program to back self-help projects among America's poor, to say nothing of parish-based and independent soup kitchens, clothing centers, homes for the homeless and women with troubles, and quiet neighbor to neighbor care-taking. With all this behind them, the bishops have often spoken up for the nation's poor. When they did so, they had the authority of daily pastoral experience and the backing of all but the most hard-hearted of their people.