Monday, October 22, 2012

Development: Done With People, Not to Them

Faith, hope, and charity, are theological virtues. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1812-1829, particularly 1822)

In "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth") Benedict XVI describes principles we can use to make charity work: today and in the world we're building.

Charity is a theological virtue, but we're human beings: so getting it right takes work; and I'm not going to go off on a tangent about original sin. (June 27, 2012)

'The Hunted Look in their Eyes'

There's some truth to the joke about an over-energetic philanthropist: 'you could tell who he was helping, by the hunted look in their eyes.' (November 25, 2011)

Having zeal to help others is nice, but so is knowing how make that help effective.

Benedict XVI describes the sort of cooperation we need, if development is going to work:
"...International cooperation requires people who can be part of the process of economic and human development through the solidarity of their presence, supervision, training and respect...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 47)
Here's a breakout of that list of personal qualities for folks being a part of economic and human development:
  • Presence
  • Supervision
  • Training
  • Respect
I'm inclined to see respect as being particularly important. It's one thing to 'help the poor;' something else to see folks who have less wealth and power as 'respectable' persons.

Remembering Why the Bureau Exists

This is about as snarky as I can remember an official Vatican document getting:
"...From this standpoint, international organizations might question the actual effectiveness of their bureaucratic and administrative machinery, which is often excessively costly. At times it happens that those who receive aid become subordinate to the aid-givers, and the poor serve to perpetuate expensive bureaucracies...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 47)
There's more, including the idea that aid programs should be honest about:
  • How they're spending money
  • Who gets helped
  • Whether any resources seep through to the alleged recipients
All of that is a good idea, and a reminder to check out 'charitable' agencies before handing them money.

As for government programs that simply take our money - I realize that it's possible for a government agency to do something other than provide employment for bureaucrats.

I also think it's better when private citizens get together as needed, and work out ways to get what's needed to folks who need it.

More posts about "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth)
"Caritas in Veritate"

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