Care of the Poor by the Church
FREE Catholic Classes
I. OBJECTS, HISTORY, AND ORGANIZATION
A. The care of the poor is a branch of charity. In the narrow sense charity means any exercise of mercy towards one's fellowman rooted in the love of God. While numerous classes of persons are fit objects for charity, the chief class is constituted by the poor. By the poor are meant persons who do not possess and cannot acquire the means of supporting life, and are thus dependent on the assistance of others. In accordance with Christ's command ( Matthew 25:40 ), the care of the poor is the duty of all the members of the Christian body, so that by the works of each the welfare of the whole community may be promoted. As, however, success is most readily attained by the systematic co-operation of many, we find since the earliest days of Christianity, side by side with the private exercise of charity, strictly conceded measures taken by the Church for the care of the poor. The Church's care of the poor is by no means a substitute for private efforts; on the contrary, it is intended to supplement, extend, and complete the work of individuals. Modern moralists distinguish, according to the degree of need, three kinds of poverty:
(2) real want, or beggary, is the condition of those who do not possess and cannot earn sufficient means to support life, and depend on charity for what is lacking;
(3) extreme want, or destitution, is a state in which the means of support are lacking to such a degree that, without extraneous aid,existence is impossible.
The latter two classes are the object first of curative, and then of preventive remedies.
The object of ecclesiastical provision for the poor is, first the removal of their immediate need, then the nullification of the demoralizing effects of poverty, encouragement, the fostering of a desire for work and independence, and thus the exercise of an educative influence on the soul : "the care of souls is the soul of the care of the poor ". There is in addition the social object of promoting the public welfare and of procuring for the greatest possible number of persons a share in the goods of material and intellectual civilization. From this object arise the general duties of ecclesiastical relief of the poor : to prevent those able to earn their living from falling into poverty, to assist with alms the sick and the poor, to raise the religious and moral condition of the poor, and to render social life a blessing for needy mankind. The relief of the poor includes also today a number of important tasks arising from the injurious influences of capitalistic forms of production, the modern system of interest and usury in general, and the neglect of the moral foundations of social life based on Christianity. The Church seeks to fulfil the objects and duties of poor-relief by means of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy usually included under the name of alms.
B. The object of ecclesiastical poor-relief determines its relations to social politics and state provision for the poor. Social politics and ecclesiastical relief of the poor have both for their object the removal of the material, intellectual, and moral needs of the poorer classes of the community. They are essentially distinct in three points:(1) the chief motive of social politics is justice, the chief motive of ecclesiastical relief isChristian charity;
(2) social politics considers whole groups or great classes of the people; ecclesiastical relief concerns itself essentially with the needs of theindividual ; the object of the former is to abolish pauperism, while the latter aims at removing individual poverty;
(3) social politics aims rather at prophylactic measures, seeking to prevent the continuation and increase of poverty, while ecclesiastical relief, although also prophylactic, is mainly curative, since it relieves and, as far as possible, removes existing need.
Both ecclesiastical relief-work and social politics are indispensable for society ; they act and react on each other. Justice without charity would lead to rigidity, and leave the bitterest cases of need uncared for; charity without justice would allow thousands to suffer destitution, and save but a few. The man who is capable of earning his own livelihood needs not alms, but work and just wages.
Between State provision for the poor and ecclesiastical relief the relation is as follows: the State should by its social politics prepare the way for the development of voluntary poor-relief, and should put these politics into practice against lazy individuals ; on the other hand, the provision for the really poor is in the first place the business of the private person and the Church, in the second place of the community, and in the last place also of the State. Liberal economics as represented by Adam Smith, Richard Malthus, and David Ricardo, is based on the ancient Roman view of life, and claims exclusively for the State the task of relieving the poor, since this relief does not lessen but rather increases the amount of poverty, imposes huge expenditure on the State, and inclines the lower classes to laziness. On the other hand, it must be remembered that the State should support the unalienable human rights of the helpless, and promote the common weal by uplifting the needy classes. It is therefore bound not only to interest itself in the politics of pauperism (i.e. to wage war on professional beggars and all malevolent exploitation of charity), but also in the private care or the poor, especially today, when the voluntary ecclesiastical and private relief of the poor cannot possibly satisfy all the demands made upon it. The Church has indeed at all times emphasized the duties of the State in promoting the welfare of the people. Leo XIII's Encyclical on the question of the working man (1891) assigns to the State tasks which come under the programme of poor-relief. The part played by the State should however be only subsidiary; the chief rôle should be regularly filled by voluntary relief and neighbourly charity, since thus alone will the principle of spontaneous generosity and individuality be retained, inasmuch as State relief rests on compulsory taxation and always remains bureaucratic. The Church therefore asserts her innate right to care for the poor together and in conjunction with the State, and condemns the agitation for a state monopoly of poor-relief as a violation of a principle of justice. The political side of pauperism does indeed pertain to the State; in the actual relief of the poor, however, Church and community should co-operate. While the institutions founded by the Church are to be administered by the ecclesiastical authorities the Church must be allowed to exercise also in State institutions her educative and moral influence. Close co-operation between ecclesiastical, public, and private poor-relief effectually prevents its exploitation by unworthy individuals.
C. Ecclesiastical relief of the poor is condemned by Protestants (e.g. in recent times by Dr. Uhlhorn) who assert that it is unmethodical, uncritical, and without organization, and consequently fosters begging and exercises a harmful influence. To this we may reply: Christianity disapproves of everything irrational, and therefore also a priori of disorganized and uncritical care of the poor. But the surveillance must not be injurious or degrading to the poor. Without transgressing the boundaries of charity and respect for the dignity of man, the New Testament distinctly demands discretion in the giving of alms, and condemns professional begging ( 1 Thessalonians 4:11 ; 1 Timothy 5:13 sqq. ). The whole range of ecclesiastical literature and even the greatest friends of the poor among the teachers of the Church peremptorily insist upon order and distinction being employed in relieving the poor, warn against the encouragement of lazy beggars, and declare that one may as little support laziness as immorality; unjustly received poor-relief must be restored. Ecclesiastical relief of the poor has from the very beginning been very well organized, the organization being changed in every century to suit the changing conditions of the times. Not in those places where the Church has controlled poor-relief but in those where the State or other powers have interfered with its administration, have disorder and a want of discrimination been apparent.
The latest opponents of ecclesiastical poor-relief are the extreme Individualists and Socialists. Denying a future existence, professing an extreme Evolutionism and Relativism, upholding in the moral sphere the autonomy of the individual, and proclaiming war on rank (i.e. a class war ), they condemn all benefactions as prejudicial to the dignity of man and to the welfare of the community. Friedrich Nietzsche, as an extreme Individualist, sees in boundless competition -- a battle of all against all, which necessarily means the downfall of the weak and the poor -- the means of securing the greatest possible personal welfare. Socialism, as represented by Carl Marx and Carl Kautsky, proclaims a war of the propertyless against the propertied classes, a war whose energy is paralyzed and impaired (they assert) by charitable activity. In a criticism of Nietzsche's teaching, it must be emphasized that the superman is a mere phantasy without any philosophical or historical foundation whatever. Even the strongest man is dependent on the civilization of the past and present, and on the social organization. Against the forces of nature, against the accumulated treasures of civilization, against the combination of adverse circumstances, he is powerless. Even the strongest-willed man may be in the next moment the most piteous mortal in extreme need of charity. If a man make himself the centre of all his objects, he challenges all men to battle. The theory of the rights of the strong has as its final consequence the reduction of mankind to a horde of warring barbarians. Christian morality, on the other hand, distinguishes between just love of self, which includes love of neighbour, and the self-love which it combats and condemns. In appraising the value of the socialistic theory which declares poor-relief a disgrace alike to society and the receiver of alms, we may observe: Even if we were disposed to grant that in the socialistic state of the future all moral defects and their consequences will be removed (for which there is not the least proof ), the physical causes of poverty would be still present. Even in the future there will be orphans, invalids, and the helpless aged; to these no bureaucratic central authority, but sympathetic charity can afford a sufficient help. The acceptance of alms on the part of the guiltless poor is indeed for these a certain mortification, but in no way a disgrace. Otherwise it would be a disgrace to accept the gifts of nature and civilization, which we ourselves have not earned, and which form the greater part of our material and spiritual possessions. It is however a shame and bitter injustice to replace just wages by alms. This is so far from being the object of Christian relief of the poor, that Christian morality expressly condemns it as a sin against distributive justice. But all objections against ecclesiastical poor-relief will be most easily met by a glance at its history.
D. The history of ecclesiastical poor-relief is difficult, because, in accordance with the command of Christ ( Matthew 6:3 ), it for the most part avoids publicity, deals with individuals, and is to a great extent influenced by social institutions. We will confine ourselves to brief notices of the most important historical phenomena.
(1) As a natural characteristic of man, human sympathy was active even among the pagans, who, however, recognized no moral obligation to render assistance, since the knowledge of a common origin and destiny and of the equality of men before God was wanting. Isolated suggestions of the Christian doctrine of neighbourly charity are found in the writings of Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, but these writers were powerless to convert wide circles to more humane sentiments. Consequently, a public and general care of the poor existed nowhere in antiquity, but only isolated suggestions thereof. In Athens Pisistratus made provision for needy war-invalids and citizens, and the application of this provision was later extended to all residents whom infirmity rendered unable to work. Special officials, the sitarchs, were also appointed to prevent a shortage of corn. Similar institutions existed in other Greek towns. In Rome the poor regulations from the time of Julius Cæsar, and the donations of corn especially after the time of Cæsar and Augustus must be regarded as simply political measures designed to soothe the Roman proletariat clamouring for bread and games. The same may be said of the children's alimentaturia founded by Nerva and Hadrian and perfected by Trajan, of the institutions for providing for orphans in numerous towns in Italy, supported from the imperial purse, and of the later private foundations of the same kind under State supervision to be found in Italy and in the different provinces. Under the Empire the colleges of artisans were bound to provide for their impoverished colleagues. The efforts of Julian the Apostate to plant Christian poor-relief on pagan soil with the assistance of the pagan high-priest, Arsatinus, met with scant success.
(2) The Mosaic Law established a preventive poor-relief, contained numerous provisions in favour of needy Jews, and expressly commands the giving of alms ( Deuteronomy 15:11 ). These precepts of the Law were strongly inculcated by the prophets. The Divine command of charity towards one's neighbour is clearly expressed in the Law ( Leviticus 19:18 ), but the Jews regarded as their neighbour only the members of their race and strangers living in their territories. The [ Pharisees further intensified this narrow interpretation into scorn for heathens and hatred for personal enemies ( Matthew 5:37 ; Luke 10:33 ). Measures of preventive poor-relief were the decisions of the Law concerning the division of the land among the tribes and families, the inalienableness of landed property, the Sabbath and Jubilee year, usury, the gathering of grapes and corn, the third tithe, etc.
(3) Jesus Christ compared love of neighbour with the love of God ; proclaimed as its prototype the love of the Heavenly Father and His own reclaiming love for all mankind ; and taught the duties of the propertied classes towards the poor. His own life of poverty and want and the principle, "As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me", conceded to works of mercy a claim to eternal reward, and to the needy of every description the hope of kindly relief. In the doctrine and example of Jesus Christ lie the germs of all the charitable activity of the Church, which has appeared ever in new forms throughout the Christian centuries.
(4) In Apostolic times poor-relief was closely connected with the Eucharist through the oblations and agapæ and through the activity of the bishops and deacons ( Acts 6:11 sqq. ). Among the Christians of Jerusalem there was voluntary community of the use of goods, though probably not community of property ( Acts 4:37 ; 12:12 ). The care of the poor was such that no one could be said to be in need ( Acts 2:34, 44, 45 ; 4:32 sqq. ). By the institution of a common purse, administered first by the Apostles and later by the deacons, poor-relief received a public character. The public relief of the poor was to be completed by private charity ( 1 Timothy 5:14 ). Private individuals had to care first for members of their own families, the neglect of whom was likened with apostasy ( 1 Timothy 5:4, 8, 16 ), then for needy members of their community, then for the Christians of other communities, and finally for non-Christians ( Galatians 6:10 ). The Apostles proclaimed the high moral dignity and the obligation of work: "If any man will not work, neither let him eat" ( 2 Thessalonians 3:10 ); forbade intercourse with the lazy (loc. cit., 11), who are unworthy of the Christian community (6 sqq.); and forbade the support of lazy beggars ( 1 Thessalonians 2:9 ; 4:11 ; Ephesians 4:28 ; 1 Timothy 5:3, 13 ). Almsgiving is for the propertied persons an obligation of merciful charity; the poor, however, have no claim thereto; they should be modest and thankful ( 1 Timothy 6:6, 8, 10, 17 ).
(5) In sub-Apostolic times, especially during the persecutions, the bishop continues to be the administrator of the church property and the director of poor-relief. His assistants were the deacons and deaconesses. To the office of deaconess at first only widows, but later also elderly spinsters were admitted ( Romans 16:1 ; 1 Corinthians 9:5 ; 1 Timothy 5:9 ). In addition to assisting at the Divine services and at giving instruction, they had to visit the sick and prisoners, to care for poor widows, etc. Individual provision for the poor and visitation of the poor in their houses in accordance with a special list ( matricula ) were strictly practised in every Christian community. Alms were given only after close examination into the conditions, and the abuse of charity by strangers was prevented by obliging newcomers to work and demanding letters of recommendation. No lazy beggar might be supported (Didache, XI, xii; Constit. Apost., II, iv; III vii 6). It was sought to make the poor independent by assigning them work, procuring them positions, giving them tools etc. Orphans and foundlings were entrusted to Christian families for adoption and education (Const. Apost., IV, i); poor boys were entrusted to master artisans for instruction (loc. cit., ii). The sources from which the Church derived its receipts for poor-relief were: the surplus of the oblations at the Offertory of the Mass, the offerings of alms ( Collecta ) at the beginning of the service, the alms-box, the firstlings for the support of the clergy, the tithes (Const. Apost., VIII, xxx), the yield of the money collections made regularly on fast days and also in times of special need, and finally the free contributions.School or Church closed? - Here's FREE help!
(6) After the time of Constantine, who granted the Church the right to acquire property, the ecclesiastical possessions grew, thanks to the numerous gifts of land, foundations, and the tithes which gradually became established (from the sixth century) also in the West. The defects of Roman legislation in this respect, the incessant wars, the crowding of the poor into the Church made the task of relieving the poor ever more difficult. The bishop administered the church property, being assisted in the superintendence of poor-relief by the deacons and deaconesses, and in many places by special conomi or by the archpresbyters or archdeacons. In the West the division of the ecclesiastical income into four parts (for the bishop, the other clergy, church building, and poor-relief) began in the fourth century. In addition to the provision for the poor in their homes, the increasing mass of poverty demanded a new institution -- the hospital. It was to serve for a special class of the needy, and was the regular completion of the general charitable activity of the district. Such institutions for the collective care of the poor were: the diaconi , great store-houses near the church, where the poor daily enjoyed meals in common; the henodochi , for strangers; the nosocomi for the sick; the orphanotrophi and brephotrophi for orphans and foundlings; the gerontocomi for the aged. Of special importance was the hospital Basilias erected by St. Basil in Cæsarea about 369 for all classes of the needy. At the end of the sixth century hospitals and poorhouses existed in great numbers in all the divisions of the ecclesiastical territories. They were all under the bishop, and managed by a special spiritual director. The sick were nursed by deaconesses, widows, and attendants under them (see HOSPITALS).
(7) After Gregory the Great (d. 604), who organized poor-relief on a model basis in Rome and urged bishops and secular rulers to rational works of provision for the needy, the spread of Christianity to the country parts and to the Germanic and Anglo-Saxon nomadic tribes led to the gradual extension of the parish system, which dates from the fourth century; this movement was accompanied by the decentralization of poor-relief. The bishop retained the direction of the poor-relief of his city, and the dealing with special crises of need in his diocese ; on the other hand, first in Gaul and afterwards in wider circles, the parishes were, in accordance with the decrees of the Council of Tours (567), to maintain their poor at their own cost, in order that these might not wander into other communities. Since the early Middle Ages new centres of ecclesiastical poor-relief were found in the monasteries, first those of the Benedictines, later those of the Cistercians, Præmonstratensians etc. These constituted the main factor in the preventive and curative poor-relief; gave an example of work; taught the uncivilized peoples agriculture, handicrafts, and the arts; trained the youth; erected and maintained hospices for strangers and hospitals for the sick. A mighty spur to ecclesiastical and private poor-relief was supplied by the replacing of canonical penances by prayer, fasting, and the devoting of whole or part of one's fortune to the poor, pious legacies for one's own soul or for that of another.
(8) From the days of Constantine civil legislation supported ecclesiastical poor-relief by granting privileges in favour of pious foundations, legacies, hospitals etc. The State also adopted from the time of Emperors Gratian, Valentinian II, and Justinian, measures against lazy beggars. The later Merovingians diverted to some extent church property from its proper objects and disorganized poor-relief. In his capitularies Charlemagne created a state-ecclesiastical organization for providing for the poor, and strictly forbade vagabondage (806). His organization was revived by King St. Louis (d. 1270), who sought to make the communities responsible for the support of parochial poor-relief.
(9) During the Middle Ages properly so-called there is an important distinction between poor-relief in the city and in the country. The feudal system, which had become established in the tenth century, threw the care of impoverished servants and serfs, and thus of the greater number of the poor of the country districts, on the lord of the manor. In addition the parish priest worked for the poor of his flock, and the monasteries and foundations for strangers and the sick.
(10) Provision for the poor was splendidly developed in the cities of the Middle Ages. Its administrators were -- in addition to the parish clergy, the monasteries, and the hospitals -- the guilds, corporations, and confraternities. The Hospitallers cared for the sick, the poor in their houses, and travellers; the guilds, for sick and impoverished members and their families ; the distress guilds, for pilgrims and travellers. Special religious congregations cared for the sick and prepared medicines -- e.g. the Humiliati, the Jesuati, the Brothers of the Holy Ghost , the Beguines and Beghards , and, since the thirteenth century, the mendicant orders, especially the Franciscans. The pawn-offices ( montes pietatis ) established in Italy, and the loan societies founded by Bishop Giberti of Verona (1528), served as repressive poor-relief.
It is false to assert that municipal regulations in aid of the poor were a fruit of the Reformation ; the medieval municipal magistrates, in conjunction with the clergy, already made extensive provision for the poor, endeavoured to stop begging by ordinances and police-regulations, supported the real poor and municipal institutions, and fostered the education of orphans, in so far as this was not provided for by relations and the guilds. In general, medieval poor-relief was in no way lacking in organization; in the country districts the organization was indeed perfect; in the towns the clergy, monasteries, magistrates, guilds, confraternities, and private individuals vied with one another in providing for the poor with such discrimination and practical adaptability that in normal times the provision satisfied all demands, extraordinary calamities alone overtaxing it. The frightful growth of beggary at the close of the Middle Ages arose, not from the failure of ecclesiastical poor-relief, but from the relative over-population of the European civilized countries and other economical conditions of the time. The lack of a central administration exercised by the bishop, after the model of the early Christian relief, constituted indeed a defect in organization.
(11) The Reformation destroyed the monasteries and ecclesiastical foundations, which were for the most part applied to secular objects. The terrible wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries aggravated the misery caused by the secularization of the property which had maintained poor-relief to such an extent that poverty, begging, crime, want, and public insecurity grew unchecked. The poor-regulations of the towns were almost entirely ineffectual, and the State governments entered on a warfare with poverty and vagabondage by inflicting severe punishments, and, in England and France, the penalty of death. In opposition to the Christian tradition, the Reformers championed public relief of the poor, administered by the secular community and the State, and substituted for the principle of charitable institutions the home principle. In Germany the secularization of poor-relief began with the imperial police regulations of 1530; in France Francis II extended the compulsory obligation of the community to give and the right of the poor to claim support, decreed by Francis I for Paris, to all his territories. It was but to be expected that poor-relief should be secularized also in England (1536); this provision was followed in 1575 by the legal institution of poorhouses, and in 1601 by the celebrated Poor Law of Queen Elizabeth. This state continued until 1834, when the reform which had been found absolutely indispensable was effected.
(12) The Council of Trent renewed the ancient precepts concerning the obligations of the bishops to provide for the poor, especially to supervise the hospitals (Sess. VII de Ref., cap. xv; Sess. XXV de Ref., cap. viii) and the employment of the income from ecclesiastical prebends (Sess. XXV de Ref., cap. i). In accordance with these decrees, numerous provincial synods laboured to improve ecclesiastical poor-relief. St. Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan (d. 1584), worked with special zeal and great ability. Simultaneously there arose especially for the care of the poor and the sick and for the training of poor children a number of new orders and congregations -- e.g.: the Order of Brothers of Mercy, the Clerics Regular of St. Camillus of Lellis, the Somaschans, the Order of St. Hippolytus in Mexico, the Bethlemites, the Hospitaller Sisters, the Piarists. Fundamental and exemplary was the activity of St. Vincent de Paul (d. 1660). In 1617 he founded the Confréie de la Charité , a women's association which, under the guidance of the parish priest, was to provide for the poor and the sick; in 1634 he founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, a visiting institute under religious discipline, which has for centuries proved its efficacy in caring for the sick and in making provision for the poor ; it combines centralization and strict discipline in administration with decentralization and adaptability in the relief of the poor.
(13) The secularization of church property during the French Revolution and the succeeding period (1804) dealt a severe blow to ecclesiastical poor-relief. Comprehensive poor-laws were passed by several European states, but in no case were they such as to make ecclesiastical poor-relief dispensable.
(14) Since the middle of the nineteenth century the development of industries, the growth of cities and freedom of emigration have reduced large numbers of the population to poverty, and necessitated gigantic expenditure on the part of the community and State. The States sought by the legal protection of labour in the form of workmen's insurance, factory laws and commercial regulations, to prevent poverty and to render stricter and perfect the poor-regulations. Legislation is obliged to return to the old Christian principle of charitable institutions. In Germany and the neighbouring countries the "Elberfelder System" was adopted for the public care of the poor ; this is based on personal contact between the almoner and the impoverished family, and combines the communal and private charitable activities. In South Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, the communities employ more than formerly private bodies in their poorhouses and orphanages, religious congregations -- e.g., the Sisters of Mercy founded by Father Theodosius Florentini (1844, 1852) -- being entrusted with the internal administration of such State institutions. Regulations concerning the communities and establishments for poor-relief have been inaugurated widely today in districts, provinces, countries, and states.
(15) In addition to this state provision for the poor, ecclesiastical poor-relief has developed in recent times not merely in the parishes and religious orders, but also in an incalculable number of charitable institutions . We shall name only the crèches , schools for young children institutions for orphans, weaklings, the deaf and dumb, the blind, cripples, unprotected children, protectories, Sunday-schools, protectorates for apprentices, the International Association for the Protection of Girls, the Railway Mission, hospices for servants, workwomen, fallen women, and women exposed to danger, the provision for liberated criminals, for emigrants, and the aged; women's charitable associations (e.g., The Elizabethen -- and Ludwigsvereine ); the men's associations for poor-relief including the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (founded 1833), the Charitable Students' Circles, the legal bureaux, the colonies of workmen, the temperance movement, and the inebriate asylums.
(16) While politico-religious Liberalism destroys ecclesiastical charitable institutions and persecutes the charitable congregations, the Christian love of neighbour continues to find new ways of providing for the poor. The necessity of securing unanimity of purpose among the various ecclesiastical institutions for the relief of the poor has called into life various diocesan and national unions for the organization of charity -- e.g.: The Caritasverband für Deutschland (1897), the Austrian Reichsverband der katholischen Wohltätigskeitsorganisation (1900), the Caritasfaktion der schweizerische Katholikenveneins (1899). On the Protestant side, the ecclesiastical care of the poor is organized especially by the Home Missions.
E. The organization of ecclesiastical poor-relief is necessary today to bind together, after the fashion of the early Christian charitable activity for the repression and prevention of poverty, all religious monastic, private, corporate, state, and communal forces aiming at this object; while the varying national and local conditions demand a great diversity in organization, in general the following must be the guiding principles:
(1) For ecclesiastical poor-relief the bishop must be the soul and centre of the diocesan organization. He directs undertakings affecting the entire or a great portion of the diocese, and regulates and supervizes the general charitable activity of the parishes ;
(2) The local pastor is the immediate director of the ecclesiastical poor-relief of his parish. Monastic orders labouring in the parish, charitable lay associations, orphanages and institutes for the poor and sick are all under his direction. The parish - priest should endeavour to co-operate as far as possible with the secular and private poor-relief of his district, and also with the local authorities, so as to secure regular and uniform action;
(3) The local provision for the poor should be as far as possible confined to the home, promoting personal contact between the helper and the poor ; the assistance should be as a rule given in goods, the abuse of gifts of money being guarded against as far as practical;
(5) The means are to be obtained from the income from foundations, from the regular and voluntary contributions of the parishioners, and, in case of necessity, from extraordinary collections. Sometimes local poor-relief is combined with the charitable organizations of the neighbourhood;
(6) Repressive provision for the poor concerns itself in the first place with those able to work, especially with:(a) children, who are placed for training either with relatives, with trustworthy families, or in orphanages. While maintenance in a family is preferable, no general rule can be laid down on this point. A new task is the charitable provision for children, who are uncared for by their parents, and who are morally unprotected (cf. The Prussian Fürsorgeerziehungsgesetz of 1897);
(b) sick and decrepit persons, who are assisted either with gifts of goods, food, medicine etc. in their homes, or are placed in poor-houses or hospitals.
Repressive provision for the poor is also directed towards persons able to work, who can earn their livelihood and do not do so. If this is the result of obstinate laziness, and an inclination to begging and vagabondage, the State should confine the offenders in institutions of compulsory labour, or engage them on useful works, paying them wages and supporting them. Should, however, it arise from inability to find employment, the State should interfere by inaugurating relief-works, comprehensive organization of information as to labour conditions, fostering private relief measures, workers' colonies etc.
(7) Preventive poor-relief seeks to prevent the fall into poverty. This is never entirely successful, but it may become partially so by the combination of the Church, State, trade organizations, and private charitable agencies along the following lines:(a) by educating the youth to thrift, establishment of school savings banks and especially fostering economy among the working classes;
(b) by state and voluntary insurance against illness;
(c) by making the employer responsible for accidents befalling his employees;
(d) insurance against old age and incapacitation, organized on trades union or State principles;
(e) by the express inculcation of the mutual obligations of members of the same family and relatives according to theprecepts of Christianity ;
(f) war against the passion for pleasure and a social legislation guided by Christian principles.
T. J. BECK.
II. IN CANADA
The Church of Canada has numerous charitable institutions. As early as 1638 the Duchesse d'Aiguillon founded, at the instance of the missionaries, the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec, where the Hospitallers of the Mercy of Jesus have since devoted themselves to the care of the sick poor. They have also care of the General Hospital of Quebec (1693), the Sacred Heart Hospital (1873), and the Hôtel-Dieu of Chicoutimi (1884). In 1642 Jeanne Mance founded the Hôtel-Dieu of Montreal, which in 1659 was confided to the Hospitallers of St. Joseph. Mgr de Saint-Vallier (who had already founded the General Hospital of Quebec, and whose will contained the words: "Forget me, but do not forget my poor ") in 1697 requested the Ursulines to found a hospital at Three Rivers. This hospital was placed in charge of the Sisters of xxyyyk.htm">Providence in 1886. The General Hospital of Montreal (founded 1694) was entrusted in 1747 to Mme d'Youville , foundress of the Grey Nuns . This congregation, whose object is the care of foundlings, orphans, the sick, the aged, and the infirm, was the origin of other independent communities engaged in the same work, namely the Grey Nuns at St. Hyacinthe (1840), the Grey Nuns of the Cross at Ottawa (1845), the Grey Nuns of Charity at Quebec (1849), and the Grey Nuns at Nicolet (1886). These communities, which are spread throughout Canada, accomplish wonderful works of charity in behalf of the poor. More recent foundations are allied with them, among the most important being the Sisters of xxyyyk.htm">Providence (founded at Montreal in 1843 by Mme Gamelin), who devote themselves to the spiritual and temporal relief of the poor and sick, orphans and aged, the visitation and care of the sick in their homes, dispensaries, refuges, and workrooms. They have eighty-five establishments. At Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec there is a society for the Protection of Young Girls, as also the Layette Society, an association of charitable women which assists poor families at the period of the birth of children. The above table, though necessarily incomplete, affords an idea of the number and variety of charitable activity in Canada.
The Church carries out these undertakings, at least in the Province of Quebec, almost entirely with the assistance of private charity. In 1902 the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec received free 1052 sick poor, whose stay at the hospital represented 30,892 days of board and treatment. The sisters receive from the Government an annual allowance of $448, but nothing from the city, and they pay the water tax. In 1910 the Sisters of Charity of Quebec had 538 old men and women and 1704 orphans ; they received $1498 from the Government and paid to the city $1050 for water
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