The moral test of any society is “how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation. We are called to look at public policy decisions in terms of how they affect the poor.” Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+liberation+theology&qpvt=images+liberation+theology&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=0F189C86953BAD887BA8DFBDF222BD0DCD8F4130&selectedIndex=1

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Option_for_the_poor#Liberation_theology_debate

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In its origins, the concept was connected with the liberation theology movement of the mid-20th century. As a developed theological principle, the option for the poor was first articulated by Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez  in his landmark work, A Theology of Liberation (1971). Gutierrez asserts that the principle is rooted in both the Old and New Testaments and claims that a preferential concern for the physical and spiritual welfare of the poor is an essential element of the Gospel.

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According to proponents of this philosophy, the “[preferential] option for the poor” refers to a trend, throughout the Judeo-Christian Bible, of preference being given to the well-being of the poor and powerless of society in the teachings and commands of God as well as the prophets and other righteous people. Jesus taught that on the Day of Judgment, God will ask what each person did to help the poor and needy: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”  This is reflected in Catholic canon law, which states, “The Christian faithful are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor.”

According to said doctrine, through one’s words, prayers and deeds one must show solidarity with, and compassion for, the poor. Therefore, when instituting public policy one must always keep the “preferential option for the poor” at the forefront of one’s mind. Accordingly, this doctrine implies that the moral test of any society is “how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation. We are called to look at public policy decisions in terms of how they affect the poor.”

Pope Benedict XVI has taught that “love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel.”  This preferential option for the poor and vulnerable includes all who are marginalized in society, including unborn children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and terminally ill, and victims of injustice and oppression.

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