Christians in wealthy nations have an obligation to assist those who struggle to subsist in developing economies. The critical question remains: How is this duty best discharged? Conventionally, church leaders have often recommended government-to-government aid transfers as a major strategy to promote development in poor nations. Philip Booth, relying on the principles of Catholic social teaching and the evidence of development economics, argues that this strategy has been in large measure a failure.
A distinctive mark of Christianity from its beginning has been solicitude for the poor. The source of this concern is no mystery: Jesus’ own ministry was characterized by compassion toward the marginalized and insistence on the dignity of all people.
With the rise of the contemporary international system of nation-states and the advent of extraordinary economic progress within many of those nations, the Roman Catholic Church recognized a new dimension to its traditional concern for the poor. Perceiving a disturbing imbalance in levels of development among nations, Catholic pastors urged those in richer nations to remember their brothers and sisters abroad.