The Christian has a duty and obligation, as the epistle author reminds us:
45. “If a brother or a sister be naked and in want of daily food,” says St. James, “and one of you say to them, ‘Go in peace, be warm and filled,’ yet you do not give them what is necessary for the body, what does it profit?” (James 2:15-16)
There was a realization as the postwar world progressed of great need in other lands. Perhaps Europeans remembered the devastation of the world wars and that others were kind with aid in need.
Today no one can be unaware of the fact that on some continents countless men and women are ravished by hunger and countless children are undernourished. Many children die at an early age; many more of them find their physical and mental growth retarded. Thus whole populations are immersed in pitiable circumstances and lose heart.
The sad truth is that the starving and needy of the 1940s were whites. Attention, and perhaps not quite as much, was turned in the 1960s, and behold, people of color.
Popes were not blind to the disparity and the need:
46. Anxious appeals for help have already been voiced. That of Our predecessor John XXIII was warmly received. (Cf. Mater et Magistra AAS 53 (1961), 440 ff.) We reiterated his sentiments in Our Christmas message of 1963, (Cf. Christmas message, December 1963) and again in 1966 on behalf of India. (Cf. Encicliche e discorsi di Paolo VI, vol. IX: ed. Paoline, Rome (1966), 132-136) The work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been encouraged by the Holy See and has found generous support. Our own organization, Caritas Internationalis, is at work all over the world. Many Catholics, at the urging of Our brother bishops, have contributed unstintingly to the assistance of the needy and have gradually widened the circle of those they call neighbors.
This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this link.
The image is of Lady Justice at the Central Criminal Court of London.