from Franciscan Mission Service
Marie Dennis has several ties to Franciscan Mission Service, including past involvement with Maryknoll organizations and current involvement with Pax Christi International. In 2007, we presented her with the Anselm Moons Award. She also was a Souposium speaker and facilitated our returned missioner retreat in 2013. In this installment of our Lenten series, “Poor and Free: A Spiritual Yes to Less”, Marie addresses the nuances and complexities of responding to social injustices with generosity and joy.
Franciscan Mission Service: Your work has called into question the ethics of just-war theory. In free-market capitalist democracy, how is it possible for Christians to translate spiritual poverty into public policy?
Marie Dennis: Actually, I believe that spiritual poverty (Blessed are the poor in spirit …) is much more challenging than we are led to believe. Spiritual poverty moves us beyond “detachment” from the material possessions that we continue to accumulate toward real simplicity of lifestyle and – most importantly – into relationship with those who are impoverished in order to interpret reality from their perspective.
From that vantage point, we can begin to evaluate laws or public policy proposals and business or consumer practices by how they affect people who are poor and we can work with impoverished people to change the structures and transform the systems that create or perpetuate poverty…