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"Blessed is He Who Considers the Poor!" (Ps 41,2)

Reflections on Poverty in Our Society


From: Geist und Leben, 6/2008, P. 455-467
webmaster's own, not authorized translation


In spite of all hopes and efforts of the welfare state the poverty in our society increases. To do justice to the current social trends as well as to our Christian conception of man, of new faces and causes of poverty has to be taken notice. Besides economic factors also social and cultural ones are to be taken into account. We are, as a matter of principle, to extend our perception to all who stand on the margin and are excluded from active participation. Nothing about the relevance of the option for the poor has changed. Justice, solidarity and subsidiarity remain guidelines for our actions. We are challenged time and again anew to practice a kind of dealing with power, property and influence that is moulded by the Gospel and thus enables us to overcome exclusion.


1. Need for a Redefinition of Poverty

All hopes have fallen through that in our all in all very rich society poverty would be overcome or at least clearly reduced by growing prosperity and additional social benefits. Recent reports and studies prove that also in Germany poverty continues to exist, becomes firmly established and even alarmingly increases {1}. {1}. The trend towards a convergence of the standard of living has long since been reversed, the gap between rich and poor becomes wider and wider. Together with wealth poverty has grown. This message startles us, not least because of the high taxes and the many efforts in the social field. How can it be that reality looks like that despite considerable efforts? At the same time it has become increasingly difficult to define who is meant in concrete terms with "the poor", what the definition is based on, and therefore also by what means things can be put right, what measures are to be taken to what goals. The public debates and many studies as well focus to a great extent on people with an income far below the average, i.e. with low material resources. Based on the principle of distributive justice there can also quickly be heard the call for additional state transfer payments which are to solve the problem.



But such a reduction does not do justice to the situation, because poverty has many and diverse faces, and the reality is complex and many-sided: low income, insecure and poor housing conditions, heavy debts, chronic diseases, mental problems, long-term unemployment, social exclusion, insufficient support etc. {2} Material poverty continues to exist, and there are far too many people in our country who have hardly the bare essentials for life. This must not be played down or levelled/ ironed out. The perspective has rather to be widened on different facets as well as causes and interactions. An existential basic safeguard, as it is to a large extent guaranteed in our welfare state, is obviously not enough.


New Faces of Poverty

In addition to the old division between rich and poor, different classes or strata, we are today witnessing new divisions: unsuccessful integration and cultural sealing off of migrants, disintegration of old forms of solidarity, considerable burdens on families, generational conflicts of a quite new kind, questions of gender justice, cultural demarcations in the mass media, etc. More attention is also paid to the rights and burdens of future generations. There are many and diverse distortions and tension lines which cannot be taken in (grasped) with the help of one-dimensional categories. We observe furthermore an increasing individualization of social conflicts, which make the political handling more difficult {3}.

In addition, in our competitive society more and more people are exposed to an enormous pressure at their place of work or in the struggle for a job. Always new pressure to work harder, pressure of time, increase in efficiency, the pressure of globalization, etc. impair many people's quality of life, all the more of those who cannot keep up with the fast-moving society. Long since the fear of unemployment and as a result of a drop in social status has seized large sections of the population. For many young people the start into working life seems almost impossible; with it the feeling is associated that you are not needed. Even in private life the expectations as well as the requirements and challenges have increased. The increase in mental illnesses is just one consequence of those pressures. All in all the awareness of the fragility of all our living conditions has clearly increased.

Against that background always new terms emerge in the attempt to describe and grasp poverty, this old-new phenomenon: underclass, precariat, underprivileged milieus, declassed people, the new poor, etc. {4}



Sometimes the debate does not go beyond discussing the appropriate words instead of offensively tackling the social problems which are behind them.


2. Theological Foundations

Orientation and standard for our reflection on poverty must always be the Christian conception of man. After all, in all our charitable efforts at stake are people, especially those who are excluded. As a creature of God every human being - created as the image of God - has a unique, inalienable dignity. S/he cannot be deprived of it, not by unemployment or illness, not by a life outside the societal norm or on the street, not by addiction or loneliness. It is rather our duty to respect the dignity of all people and to protect it against injuries. Or, as the President of the German Caritas Association, Peter Neher, formulated, "We are led here by the claim that everybody, no matter what kind of support s/he needs, is able in dignity and self-determination to participate in the life of society." {5}

It's true though that the original order of creation is broken, so that we live in a constant tension - between our unlimited dignity and our own limitedness, between our weaknesses and our talents, between our sins and God's love to us, between suffering and redemption {6}. Everyone, yes all of us are poor, dependent on others, in need (of love), at the same time all of us are rich, have got presents and are gifted. In a letter to Pope Eugene III Bernard of Clairvaux vigorously emphasizes this fundamental poverty that substantially belongs to the human existence. At the same time he calls upon him to think about his nature and its author, i.e. about the grandeur of his destination {7}. All of us are limited, restricted, disabled, vulnerable; at the same time all of us are despite our limitations accepted, unconditionally loved and redeemed. In Christ's death and resurrection our limitedness is elevated. In his encyclical "Deus Caritas est" Pope Benedict XVI makes it perfectly clear that love, charity, will always be necessary, even in the most just society, and that every human being needs loving personal attention {8}.



It is salutary to be always aware of our own need when we devote ourselves to other people, the weak, the poor. When we use our freedom not at the expense of others but in their favour, especially the favour of the poor, then not only the others but we ourselves will become free and sound, just because we do not close our mind to our own wounds {9}.


Sources of Caritas: God's Love and Redemption

Since we are loved by God we can accept our own limitations and finiteness and can so become free of striving for more and more power and possessions, of the insatiable thirst for more {10}. That opens our eyes for others and challenges us to take responsibility for ourselves and others. In response to God's love to us the love of God and of our neighbour is growing within us. "Caritas in the full sense means God's love for people and their response, namely the love of God and also the love of other people, of our neighbour." {11} Jesus' special closeness and commitment to the poor - to them he felt more sent than to anybody else - obliges us to it in a special way. In the end even the love of God and the love of one's neighbour merge: "In the most humble we encounter Jesus himself, and in Jesus we meet God." {12} This unity of love of God and love of one's neighbour is based not least on the fact that Jesus has identified himself with the poor {13}.

The redemption through Christ's death on the Cross enables us, despite our own brokenness, to co-operate in responsibly arranging the world. From it also the task arises to take part in caring for our fellow human beings and all creatures {14}. The knowledge of the divine promise is not only the basis of our hope and so enables our commitment to others. What is more: The human person as well as society as a whole are only completely free when they have come to themselves and live in the fullness of their rights and obligations. To practise solidarity and to serve one's neighbour is therefore indispensable for one's own development and liberation {15}.



In a comprehensive sense the Christian message, the Gospel, the proclamation of the Kingdom of God is always a message of liberation. Everything is to be overcome that condemns people to stay on the verge of life: hunger, chronic diseases, illiteracy, poverty, injustice, etc. {16} Both forms of testimony belong inseparably together in evangelization: the material testimony of love of one's neighbour [Tatzeugnis] and the interpreting testimony of proclaiming and the Gospel {17}.


3. Various Facets of Poverty

To get a picture of the diversity and complexity of poverty in our society we are to look at its various aspects as well as its causes and effects. In the current situation different phenomena often overlap and cause each other, for instance unemployment and cultural neglect, need of social welfare and disintegration of families, migration reality and less favourable social advancement {18}.


Economic Factors

Economic factors remain paramount, since the lack of material resources as main reason impedes the equal participation in social life. In analyzing the causes, however, unemployment is to be mentioned first. The exclusion from working life leads to the loss of identity and self-esteem and makes the participation in social life more difficult. Mass unemployment brings about a milieu and seals people off from prospects of and the will for promotion {19}, in this respect poverty and marginalization in Germany are firmly established by it. The structural crisis of the labour market is even the main factor that causes and perpetuates poverty {20}. A slight decline in the unemployment figures should not obscure the fact that the structural problems in our labour market remain as before. On the one hand there are not enough jobs in our country; on the other hand many people have de facto no chance of getting a job on the first labour market because they cannot keep up there.



This situation contributed to a considerable extent to the structural change from a majority of those in work, who were involved in the care for other people, to a population which to a considerable part has to rely on state transfer payments {21}.

In this context also the training as a prerequisite plays a central role. Low-skilled people have the greatest difficulties in finding or keeping a job. In view of the transition to an economy oriented towards service and knowledge the inability to offer low-skilled and immigrant people chances of access to the labour market {22}. In addition, the pressure by the global competition of the labour markets and the increased demands in working life, the growing distribution into winners (those who are needed) and losers (those who cannot keep up) leads to a significant deterioration in the quality of life, not only among the weaker members of our society. When the value of a human beings first and foremost is defined by their performance, when the fear spreads that you are no longer able to keep up, that makes people both physically and mentally ill.

Disease is also one of the essential factors of poverty. All the studies show: poverty makes ill. Whether the reason is lack of savings, poor housing, poor knowledge or lack of competence in the field of health, neglect or psychological burdens: All these aspects result in a poorer health. But the reverse also applies: Illness makes poor. Particularly chronic and mental illnesses require not only financial resources but significantly impede the participation in social life. Poverty in addition is also reflected in unsecured, cramped and poor housing. The different faces of poverty are increasingly concentrated in problem quarters and social hot spots, what in turn reinforces the exclusion and makes the overcoming of poverty for individuals more difficult. Several challenges such as the economic situation, structural mass unemployment and demographic development have finally brought the welfare state to the brink of collapse. As a result reforms were and are needed, what usually means cuts in state payments.


Social Factors

With the social factors first the high demands on and the disadvantage of families are to be mentioned. Families are faced with an always growing group of couples and singles that are lastingly without children. The causes of childlessness are manifold.



But it is clear that the deliberate decision against children has long since become socially acceptable. Through the childlessness of so many people there is a massive imbalance in sharing the costs of bringing up children. To the financial burden differences in lifestyle and in the cultural field are added {23}. At the same time we still have a solidary pension system which is based on the payments of the rising generation. Consequently, also the burden for securing the future is uneaqually distributed. The lack of family-friendliness has long been recognized as problematic, but little has changed about the excessive burden on families. The trend towards the dissolution of traditional family structures and in consequence the increase in single parents additionally intensify the disparities and problems. That children have become a risk of poverty shows how poor our whole society has become {24}.

Furthermore in socially weak mileus the family situation, which is shaped by poverty and social exclusion, is often fixed and transferred to the next generation {25}. The neglect of children, its headlines recently caused good publicity, is here only the intensification of a fundamental problem. More inconspicuous but no less serious is the widespread inadequate upbringing and promotion of children, the insufficient support in the field of education, but also the "soft" factors such as media consumption, cultural aspects and exemplariness remain underdeveloped - not to mention the lack of motivation in the face of a rampant hopelessness and the lack of prospects. With the increasing fragmentation of families and the dissolution of traditional social ties also the possibility gets lost to cushion temporary burdens or emergencies through personal networks. The ability in case of need to activate support in one's personal environment today varies greatly, according to the social position. Many individuals are in principle taken out from primary, subsidiary relationships, from horizontal relationships in society and consequently primarily vertically related to the state as giver of payments {26}. That increases the great dependence of the so-called welfare clientele. Through long-term need of social welfare and exclusion many people are no longer able to take care of themselves and to take responsibility for their own lives - and therefore extremely dependent on state transfer payments and other support.

The social situation also leads to new conflicts of the generations. In Germany older people, who traditionally are threatened by poverty, are mostly relatively well protected by our social security system, whereas young people today find it increasingly difficult to become financially independent and find their place in society. But that new form of distribution conflicts has up to now hardly been resolved on the political level.



Rather redistribution often takes place in the private sector {27}. At the same time many older people feel uncoupled by the rapid social developments. Often the feeling is spreading that you are no longer needed and have no place in society. Loneliness up to feelings of futility and bitterness are the result.


Cultural Factors

Also cultural factors are to be taken into consideration when poverty is redefined. Despite the enormous importance of education in our society our education system is still far away from genuine justice of opportunity. Recent studies alarmingly show that our education system is rather strengthening the milieus than granting social permeability. Education, however, decides on the ability to take part in social developments. Not least by education also the ability of people is promoted to determine their own lives. "Education is rather the medium through the acquisition and use of which the opportunity to be citizen in the full sense of the word is significantly extended, often first at all re-established." {28} In future education has therefore to be regarded as the central place of social investments.

In addition to that in the cultural sphere particularly migration resp. the unsuccessful integration are facing us as enormous challenges. We observe a hardening of the cultural segmentation up to sealing off. The acculturation has by a majority to be regarded as failure. This is not least due to the fact that even in the second and third generation narrow limits are set to the prospect of social promotion, to the economic and cultural integration into the majority society. The participation in or the exclusion from education here plays a central role {29}. Consequently the various other factors - inter alia unemployment, sickness, cramped living conditions, difficult family situations - become aggravated again. The consequence is the lack of prospects which, in turn, strengthens the cultural isolation and is partly released in violence.

Finally the role of mass media is to be mentioned. Through the variety of offers the mass media do no longer contribute to the establishment of a common cultural identity. Especially television increasingly became a target group medium, to a great extent it has also lost its educational character. In consequence the current mass culture rather contributes to a differentiation of different strata with different styles of consumption and culture {30}.



Furthermore the excessive media consumption is not only a characteristic of certain social groups but also produces those strata by fostering passivity, isolation and neglect.


Poverty as Exclusion from Social Participation

It is common to all facets of poverty that they push people to the verge, exclude them from social life and dissociate them from developments. New social dividing lines build up or gain in importance and can hardly be overcome by individuals. Many people have no longer any prospects, any hope of return into working life or of social advancement. They have resigned and given themselves up for lost. A definition of poverty should therefore be oriented towards the chances of social participation and a share in social life resp. towards the exclusion from social and cultural developments. What matters is not only financially to protect those affected but to give them prospects for life, to support them in restoring their own abilities and to give them the opportunity to make a contribution to social life that brings them also social recognition. " Everybody must be enabled freely to develop his/her personality and to share in the public goods." {31} That requires on the one hand also a sensitivity to the capability of every individual and on the other hand for his/her needs. Criterion for all measures could be whether it is here about the social security of insiders or the integration of outsiders {32}. Social policy must in future no longer be reduced to distribution policy but must inter alia also include family and a (vocational-) educational policy {33}.


4. Preview: Sketches of a Response in the Light of the Gospel

The primary option for the poor, weak and disadvantaged, the care for those who are excluded from active participation and pushed to the brink in our society is an obligating criterion of our actions. It has nothing lost of its relevance and explosive nature {34}. The option for the poor continues to be valid for the Church and also every single Christian. This is not a theoretical declaration, on the contrary, our daily life, our concrete decisions must be shaped by it{35}.



The special attention for the weakest at the latest since the Second Vatican Council is regarded as an essential characteristic of our mission as Church and as an expression of our sacramentality. That this special attention is the distinctive feature of Catholic schools, is just one of many practical applications of this characteristic {36}. Our dealing with the weakest makes us trustworthy or untrustworthy. The concrete arrangement of the option for the poor, however, it so little static as our society and our world are static. It has rather continually to be reviewed in the light of current challenges in our society and time and again be spelled anew. To do that we have carefully to discern and to analyze the different faces of poverty, its causes and consequences.


Justice, Solidarity and Subsidiarity as Guidelines

Justice has again become a dominant concept in the discussion of social conflicts and in the political debate. Here, however, we find a variety of definitions, so we have to differentiate: inter alia needs-based justice, justice of vestet rights, performance-related justice, income-related justice, justice of opportunity and justice of participation. An understanding of justice which is primarily oriented towards the performance of individuals or aims at the (re)distribution of goods is not nearly sufficient in the current situation. The classic strategies of justice policy all in all lose - also in view of new types of social problems - in persuasiveness and political power. The crisis of an expansive welfare state rather forces us more precisely to define the political and moral standards the ideal of justice is based on {37}. In many cases a focussing on the material redistribution does not go far enough - that shows a look at people who are affected by long-term unemployment or illness resp. at complex conflict areas (e.g. exclusion of the immigrant population or discrimination against families. In future the aspect of justice of participation has rather to come to the fore more than until now. That means the ability resp. qualification responsibly to participate in the general and fundamental opportunities of society, in social and economic life, particularly in the areas of education, gainful employment and health. This includes also the participation in social development and progress. Priority is consequently given here to the strengthening of resources for an independent life, i.e. especially to cultural competence {38}.



"What matters is that to all - according to their abilities and possibilities - opportunities for participation and a prospect of life are given instead of being content with securing people without real participation and merely financially." {39}

We are all called upon to practise solidarity, to give support and assistance particularly to those who are marginalized and socially pushed out into the cold. Everyone has the duty in accordance with his/her own capabilities and with the needs of fellow human beings to contribute to the common good {40}. Solidarity helps us to regard the other human being not as some means but as an equal being, yes, to see the Lord in him/her. Solidarity within any society can only succeed when its members recognize each other as persons who are able in a way of their own and in their dimensions to make a contribution. The 10th Synod of the Protestant Church in Germany notes about it, "Every woman and man is important; we all have, regardless of material fortune, gifts that are valuable to the community." {41} The sense of responsibility for others is based on the awareness of people's as well as of the nations' interdependence as a positive, moral value {42}. As a consequence of the principle of justice of participation solidarity is to aim at re-establishing people's own abilities, at strengthening responsibility {43}. To help people to help themselves has therefore also in our society priority.

Finally, in future the basic principle of subsidiarity must again get more attention. The crisis of the welfare state is also the result of the fact that we increasingly have left everything to the State, whereas subsidiary social networks have lost in significance. The transfer mentality, the expectation of always new state blessings and gifts instead of our responsibility, is not only embodied in socially weak milieus but reaches far into better circles {43}. Until now for the majority of the population a legal protection of basic life risks belongs to the central tasks of the State {45}. Sole responsibility, the personal takeover of social and political responsibility, the commitment of each individual and of smaller groups must be encouraged and strengthened. At the same time public institutions, ultimately the State remain called upon where smaller units are overtaxed with certain tasks, it must continue to intervene in a supportive and complementary way where that is necessary.



Dealing with Power, Possessions and Connections

Also in future we must allow to be judged by the criterion whether our dealing with power, possessions and connections is oriented towards the Gospel and shaped by that Good News. That orientation towards the three essential ways of shaping life corresponds to the recommendations of the Gospel. The attempt to live that symbolically is in particular the vocation of members of religious orders. It is important to emphasize that the poverty we produce has not only to do with our handling property but is also based on a defective dealing with power and connections. That is all the more true when "the poor" are not exclusively understood as people with small material resources but above all as people who are excluded from active participation and pushed to the brink of our society. Pope John Paul II speaks of a twofold sinful attitude: the greed for profit and the desire for power, which both require our conversion {46}. In checking our dealing with power, possessions and connections the following questions can lead us:

  • "Do we use our power to dominate or to serve, to make use of others or to support them in shaping their lives? Does the striving for power cause us to make our mark at the expense of others, if the occasion arises also deliberately to push them to the brink or do we understand power as means which we use for building the Kingdom of God?
  • "Do we use our possessions for the disadvantaged or do we use them to separate ourselves from them? What sacrifices do we put up with in our striving for more possessions? To what extent do we, despite that desire, have in mind the welfare of others?
  • Do we reduce our neighbour to the use that we expect from him or do we see him as an independent subject, do we show him appreciation and recognition? Do we see others with His eyes, are we able to recognize and love the Lord in others?

Such a basic attitude, which is oriented toward the example of Jesus and credibly lives this in all life circumstances, requires a deeper prayer life. Our dealings with power, possessions and connections will only be transformed when we time and again and deeper and deeper practise the perspective of the Gospel. Here contemplation, i.e. the perception of the reality already given by God, is of central importance. While we are meditating we are reminded of the fact that not we have loved God first but He us; we are encouraged to become aware of that gift that is promised us in the Scriptures and to shape out of it everyday life:



"Let us therefore love God, because God first has loved us." {47} Because of that love we can also accept our own limitations and need, our being dependent on others. Only when we in prayer time and again open to God's unconditional love of us, we can become free of the fear to get less than our fair share; this lets us grow into the inner freedom which lets us break free from our revolving around ourselves and enables us to let go. Looking at the reality in the light of the Good News makes it possible for us symbolically to present in our lives the dawn of the Kingdom of God. Not least contemplation teaches us also to reckon and to live with the deficit, to see the whole in the fragments, in the failure the divine.

When we are serious about that claim, when we in our daily actions orient towards the Gospel, we do not only give a credible testimony but can also effectively deal with old and new forms of poverty. Then we are also able to a preventive and enabling social policy, the central concern of which the German Caritas Association has formulated like this, "To make possible self-determined participation, to promote capability and to prevent exclusion." {48}



{1} This article is related to the situation in Germany without forgetting our share of the responsibility for the world-wide poverty.

{2} See Für eine Zukunft in Solidarität und Gerechtigkeit. Wort des Rates der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland und der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz zur wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Lage in Deutschland, no. 68. Edited by Kirchenamt der Evang. Kirche in Deutschland. Bonn 1997 (Gemeinsame Texte; 9), 30f.

{3} See H. Theisen, Von der Spaßgesellschaft zu einem Gleichgewicht von Rechten und Pflichten, in: P. Boskamp/H. Theisen (editor), Krisen und Chancen unserer Gesellschaft. Ein interdisziplinärer Überblick. Berlin 2002, 91-106; especially 98.

{4} In autumn 2006 diverse debates were triggered when the results of the survey "Gesellschaft im Reformprozess" were published. It was carried out by TNS Infratest Sozialforschung Berlin on behalf of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. In the text is spoken about the "abgehängten Prekariat" [precarious workers - unemployed, unskilled people who have been thrown off the course in the competition] which is moulded by "social exclusion and experiences of drop in status" (see the introduction to the analysis under; date 25.08.2008).

{5} P. Neher, Statement bei der Pressekonferenz am 19.10.2006 zum Abschluss der 3. Delegiertenversammlung des Deutschen Caritasverbandes. Berlin 2006, 1.

{6} See Pastoralkonstitution über die Kirche in der Welt von heute "Gaudium et Spes" (7.12.1965), article 10, in: 2LThK, supplementary volume 3. Freiburg 1968, 308-312.

{7} See B. von Clairvaux, Komme zu dir selbst, in: Bernhard von Clairvaux. Edited, introduced an translated by B. Schellenberg. Olten 1982, 78f.

{8} See Papst Benedikt XVI., Enzyklika "Deus caritas est" (25.12.2005), no. 28b. Edited by the Sekretariat der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz. Bonn (VAS; 171), 39f.

{9} See F. Kamphaus, Gottes Ja unsere Freiheit. Hirtenwort und Anregungen zu Verkündigung und Glaubensgespräch. Limburg 1987, 74.

{10} See in the place cited., 30.

{11} Caritas als Lebensvollzug der Kirche und als verbandliches Engagement in Kirche und Gemeinschaft (23.9.1999). Edited by the Sekretariat der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz. Bonn (Die deutschen Bischöfe; 64), 12.

{12} Papst Benedikt XVI., 'Deus caritas est', no. 15 (Anm. 8), 23.

{13} See Mt 25,31-46.

{14} See Für eine Zukunft in Solidarität und Gerechtigkeit, no. 93-95 (note 2), 39f.

{15} See Papst Johannes Paul II., Enzyklika "Sollicitudo rei socialis" (30.12.1987), no. 46. Edited by the Sekretariat der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz. Bonn (VAS; 82), 57.

{16} See Papst Paul VI., Apostolisches Schreiben "Evangelii nuntiandi" über die Evangelisierung in der Welt von heute (8.12.1975), no. 30. Edited by the Sekretariat der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz. Bonn (VAS; 2), 23.

{17} See Caritas als Lebensvollzug (note 11), 15.

{18} See P. Nolte, Riskante Moderne. Die Deutschen und der neue Kapitalismus. München 2006, 133.

{19} See in the place cited., 98.

{20} See U. Becker, Armut und Reichtum ein diakonischer Zwischenruf. Kurzreferat zur EKD-Synode, Würzburg 5.-9.11.2006 (Text under:; Stand: 25.08.2008).

{21} See P. Nolte, Riskante Moderne (note 18), 19.

{22} See in the place cited., 97.

{23} See in the place cited., 106.

{24} See Für eine Zukunft in Solidarität und Gerechtigkeit, n. 70-71 (note 2), 32.

{25} See U. Becker, Armut und Reichtum (note 20).

{26} See P. Nolte, Riskante Moderne (note 18), 20.

{27} See in the place cited., 105.

{28} In the place cited., 303.

{29} See in the place cited., 98.

{30} See in the place cited., 100.

{31} Das Soziale neu denken. Für eine langfristig angelegte Reformpolitik (12.12.2003). Edited by the Sekretariat der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz Bonn (Die deutschen Bischöfe Kommission für gesellschaftliche u. soziale Fragen; 28), 18.

{32} See H. Theisen, Spaßgesellschaft (note 3), 99.

{33} See K. Lehmann, Eigenverantwortung stärken. Dokumentation des Eröffnungsreferates bei der Herbst-Vollversammlung der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz in Fulda, in: KNA-Dokumente 11.11.2006, Bonn, 13-26.

{34} See Für eine Zukunft in Solidarität und Gerechtigkeit, no. 105 (note 2), 44.

{35} See Papst Johannes Paul II., "Sollicitudo rei socialis", no. 42 (note 15), 52f.

{36} See Die Katholische Schule an der Schwelle zum dritten Jahrtausend (28.12.1997), no. 15. Edited by the Congregation for Catholic Education. Rom (Text under: rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_27041998_school2000_ge.html; Stand: 25.08.2008).

{37} See P. Nolte, Riskante Moderne (note 18), 116f.

{38} See in the place cited., 117.

{39} Mehr Beteiligungsgerechtigkeit. Beschäftigung erweitern, Arbeitslose integrieren, Zukunft sichern: Neun Gebote für die Wirtschafts- und Sozialpolitik (29.10.1998). Edited by the Sekretariat der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz. Bonn (Die deutschen Bischöfe Kommission für gesellschaftliche und soziale Fragen; 20), 5.

{40} See "Gaudium et Spes" , article 30 (note 6), 370f.

{41} Gerechtigkeit erhöht ein Volk. Armut muss bekämpft werden Reichtum verpflichtet. Kundgebung zur EKD-Synode, Würzburg 5.-9.11.2006 (Text under:; Stand: 25.08.2008).

{42} See Papst Johannes Paul II., "Sollicitudo rei socialis", no. 38f. (note 15), 45-49.

{43} See K. Lehmann, Eigenverantwortung (note 33).

{44} See P. Nolte, Riskante Moderne (note 18), 136.

{45} See H. Faßbender/J. Kluge, Perspektive Deutschland. Was die Deutschen wirklich wollen. Berlin 2006, 19f.

{46} See Papst Johannes Paul II., "Sollicitudo rei socialis", no. 37 (note 15), 45.

{47} 1 Joh 4,19.

{48} P. Neher, Statement (note 5), 3.



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