73. According to the Biblical concept, the poor (anawim) would include not only the economically destitute, but also all those who are in any way oppressed, and so reduced to a condition of diminished worth and capacity such as the socially outcaste, the illiterate, the mentally ill and the physically challenged, those living with HIV/AIDS, the powerless and the voiceless and all other marginalized groups such as SC/ST/Dalits.
74. In her preferential love for the poor and the marginalized, the Church in Goa, while seeking to promote their human dignity, should strive to make them all participants in the leadership and decision-making (cf. Ps 113:7-8) processes in the Church “so that they can work to improve their situation and become the evangelizers of their own culture and society” (EA 34).
75. Although steps have already been taken in this direction, we, the Church in Goa, acknowledge with much regret that we have failed to give proper witness to the fundamental equality of the People of God. As disciples of Jesus we are called upon to banish, both from our personal and communitarian life, all manifestations of social discrimination such as the age-old evil of casteism, still prevalent among us today.
76. All our pastoral activities must reflect the social dimension of our faith, our option for the poor and our commitment to social justice. All of us, clergy, religious and lay faithful should witness to this option for the poor, first and foremost, in our personal lifestyle, social dealings and in our insititutions.
- 77.1 Each Parish, through the services of the SCCs and PPCs, should conduct a proper survey of all the poor in the village/neighbourhood, particularly those living with HIV/AIDS, Dalits and those belonging to SC/ST.
- 77.2 There should be no discrimination against the poor in all the participatory structures of the Parish and the Diocese.
- 77.3 The poor are unable to avail of the benefits of the government schemes. Hence a parish committee should be formed to assist them in interacting with the concerned government agencies and NGOs for the welfare of the poor. Citizens’ Charters should be made available as a source of information.
- 77.4 Preference should be given to the poor in all our Catholic Schools, Professional and Technical Colleges, Institutions as far as admissions, scholarships, jobs, etc. are concerned. All required support should be given to the poor for higher studies by instituting scholarships for them at the parish and diocesan levels.
- 77.5 The physically and mentally challenged, persons living with HIV/AIDS and those suffering from AIDS are deprived of quality medical care and holistic medicine. A diocesan hospital for the poor, as well as a nursing home for AIDS patients, particularly for those unwanted in their families, are a pressing need.
- 77.6 The Church at all levels should utilize its own assets, like land and finances, positively for the welfare of the poor, e.g. by initiating housing projects for the poor, rehabilitation schemes, scholarships for deserving students, etc.
- 77.7 Every Parish should establish a special Fund for the Poor. The faithful should be encouraged, after the model of early Christians, to contribute regularly with part of their income towards this fund for the poor in each Parish. In particular, well-to-do families are to be motivated to support the poorer families from the village community. Twinning of Parishes for the sake of mutual benefit and growth ought to be encouraged. Special mention has been made of poor Parishes of Nagar Haveli being twinned with some rich Parishes in Goa.
- 77.8 All-out efforts should be made to avoid casteist language and all kinds of discriminatory behaviour, both at the parish and diocesan level and at the national level, in order to enhance the human dignity and the evangelizing potential of our sisters and brothers of Dalit, OBC and Tribal origin.
- 77.9 Excessive expenditure on feasts and other Christian celebrations, prominent display of the names of donors, use of certain terms and phrases in our language which are discriminatory and sound derogatory to human dignity run counter to our preferential option for the poor. Immediate steps should be taken to discontinue these practices.
- 77.10 The Church could provide sufficient structures and special courses for the poor, to equip them with adequate skills in order to make them economically self-reliant.
- 77.11 All Church institutions as well as Christian faithful should ensure that just and adequate wages are given to all workers and that proper amenities are provided for them, e.g. at construction sites.