Justice for the poor in a land of plenty: A place at the table

Judith Ann Brady, Fordham University


This study explores poverty as an empirical reality and as a threat to United States ideals of justice. A Christian faith perspective frames the analysis with a focus on the role of Christian religious education to effect personal and social change. In examining the recent, significant increase of poverty in the United States empirical and historical data are analyzed to show measures of poverty, family poverty rates, the effects of poverty, the United States' response to poverty, and the negative impact of welfare to work initiatives. A Christian understanding of justice is considered from the biblical and early Christian senses of justice, the development of charity and justice when Christianity became Europe's dominate religion, the evolution of social justice in Catholic Social Teaching---including the conviction that justice requires a preferential option for the poor, and the view of justice espoused by the Catholic Church as it participated in debates about U.S. Welfare Reform. The Catholic Church's influence on justice for the poor is portrayed using the metaphor of A Place at the Table (U.S. Catholic Bishops, 2002). Liberation and feminist theologies enlarge and deepen the conversation about seeking justice for the poor: examining the documents of the Latin American bishops at Medellin (1968) and Puebla (1979) and the writings of Gustavo Gutierrez, Roger Haight and Letty M. Russell. Haight and Russell provide an in-depth presentation of the themes and methodology of liberation theology for North Americans, with Russell also contributing a feminist analysis. Educating for justice is explored using the writings of Letty M. Russell, Thomas Groome, and Gabriel Moran. Letty Russell provides a guide for educating for justice emphasizing the themes of God's mission, partnership, and hospitality. Groome presents justice as a mandate of faith and a way of living. Moran's four-step plan stresses gratitude, acknowledgement of limitations, prophetic resistance, and affirmation of a life of justice and peace. Finally, specific approaches and principles for educating for justice are proposed.

Subject Area

Religion|Religious education|Welfare|American studies

Recommended Citation

Brady, Judith Ann, "Justice for the poor in a land of plenty: A place at the table" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3193095.