by A.M. Henry 

1)     The disadvantaged

Here the poor are those who have nothing. They lack food, clothing, a home, facilities, comfort, money, in other words, they lack everything that is exterior. They own nothing.

2)     The unfortunate and accident victims

At some moment in time, life has disintegrated into nothingness and into immense distress for these people. The frailness of life is experienced. In this category, we have the « new poor », victims of the economical crisis or of massive unemployment.

3)     The isolated

Isolation is the absence of relationships or the result of broken relationships, e.g. the poverty of divorce. The lack of acquaintances or of friends mutilates one’s being and prevents one from giving all that she is.

4)     Those who have no future

We refer here to those who have no control over their tomorrows and those who cannot foresee how the future will be for them, e.g. prisoners, the unemployed, workers who are hired on a day to day basis or who have only seasonal work. This poverty regarding the future has an impact on one’s inner self: it leads one to turn in upon self, to no longer seek to produce; the self becomes hardened.

5)     The unwell

Those who have poor health: the sick, the disabled, the blind, the deaf, the paralysed, the amputees, the mentally ill, etc…

Here, the poverty is experienced in what is essential to being. Our body is who we are. Whatever affects the body affects the self.

6)     The ignorant, the incompetent, the inexperienced

Those who have little culture, little knowledge, little learning, little education, little training. This is usually more serious than the preceding forms of poverty.

Individually, the absence of learning is a source of suffering for the poor. They suffer because they do not know how to break out of their situation and improve their lot in life.

Similarly, poor countries are countries where people are undereducated. There is a lack of schools, of universities. This poverty is serious because it leads to other forms of poverty.

Having no competence or no knowledge mutilates one’s intelligence and one’s being. One is little able to produce useful things for others and for oneself. This always leads to the poverty of the disadvantaged.

7)     The unloved

These are those who are poor because they lack affection, all those who do not receive a minimum of recognition or who have no ties of love.

We now know that those who are unloved as children are handicapped for the rest of their lives.

But this is also true for foreigners who are alone, without families and who are unwelcome.

8)     Those who hide or hate themselves

There are many ways to become marginal or to feel excluded. It can happen when one is treated as such by members of the family, when others are uncaring towards one, but also when one is imprisoned, loses a job or is excommunicated by one’s religion. Or one can become this way through one’s choice: by being difficult to live with, by having an imbedded vice or a personality disorder.

9)     Those who lack willpower or love

This is the bottom of the scale. Because, without will power, the person himself/herself is affected. Is this not the case during mental depression, for example? Without desire, without willpower, without love, one cannot change, cannot evolve. The person’s vital strength is non-existent.

To allow oneself to be touched by this immense cancer that is present at the heart of humanity is to take a tremendous risk. It is to touch the very reason why Christ gave his life: to restore to our deep dignity as Children of God.