Deals with root causes, structures.
Impacts laws, policies.
Justice (Essential part of Christian Life)
Exemplified by Moses & the Prophets
Empowerment of People
Educating for Justice
Cooperative Enterprises: (Credit Unions, Worker-Owned Enterprises like production, consumer, housing)
Daily Christian Lifestyle
Helping people survive current crisis. Short term relief.
Charity Exemplified by Good Samaritan
Food Banks, Pantries
Visitation programs: elderly, sick, prisoners
Birthright ( food, clothing, funds)
When you are finished doing volunteer work in Direct service, have your group sit down and so a Social Inquiry (analysis).
Judge: What can we do to empower these folks to remove some or all of these causes?
Act: What shall we do next, so that we are not just dealing with symptoms, but helping to make institutional (permanent, long-range solutions) change?
"Christians…are called by God to be involved in the world in order to transform it according to the gospel…these duties include positively contributing to the establishment of just laws and structures that foster human values." (Pope John Paul II, Nairobi, 1980)
Credit: Social Action Department, Diocese of Davenport, 2706 Gaines St., Davenport, IA, 52804-1998, (563) 324-1911, Rev. Martin A. Mottet
It takes TWO FEET to walk. Otherwise we lose balance. It's not either–or, but both–and. If we use only the first foot (direct service), we could make matters worse by fostering dependency. If we use only the second foot (institutional change), we might become too far removed from the realities of the situation. A true Christian lifestyle requires of us that we live in solidarity with those in need and come to their assistance in emergencies. We cannot isolate ourselves.
Direct service can provide us with the data needed for institutional changes: extent and kind of need, workable solutions, a greater sense of urgency. Direct service is sometimes classified as "charity". Institutional change is "working for justice." There can be no love without justice. If we really love someone, we want him or her to have what is rightfully theirs and to be all that God intended him or her to be. If we really love, we will work to change structures, systems, laws and policies which are harmful to people.
Empowerment of low-income people and self-determination is our goal wherever possible. Self-help is our priority, helping people to become self-sufficient wherever possible. The functions listed in both feet are what an ordinary citizen in a parish or congregation might do.
To achieve policy change:
A Story: Once upon a time in a little parish built on a river, the parishioners noticed human bodies floating down the river. They pondered several actions: moving the parish to get away from the problem; removing the bodies from river and providing decent burial; setting up a clinic for those few that were still alive; going to the head of the river to see what caused this tragedy and trying t remove the causes. Which approach would you pick?
"Within the framework of your institutions…you will also want to seek out the structural reasons which foster or cause the different forms of poverty I the world and in our own country." (Pope John Paul II, Yankee Stadium, Oct. 1979)