Dr. Willem Marie Speelman (Utrecht),

Pope Francis and the Poor ChurchIt is the pope’s wish that the church approaches the poor by taking the position of the poor, with the aim to release them from their poverty. In this wish two forms of poverty are being distinguished, one is poverty as a problem, the other as a way to be released from that problem. The second form is practiced by the religious orders, who have ‘left the world’ in order to follow the evangelic councils of chastity, obedience and poverty. This has been a practice at least since the time of St. Francis of Assisi, but in fact poverty has always been also a religious way of life. In the present culture, however, this religious approach is almost taken as an insult by those who want to fight against poverty. I will argue that this modern reaction is perfectly understandable, because it is a reaction from ‘the world’; on the other hand, an religious, non-worldly, ‘exempt’ approach is the only possible way to approach those who are cast outside the modern economic order.


Dr. W.M. Speelman
Director Franciscan Study Centre
Tilburg University
School of Catholic Theology
Franciscan Study Centre