Jesus said, "Whatever you did for one of these least sisters or brothers of mine, you did for me" (Mt 25:40). The Church has always understood Jesus' words to mean that those who are poor and vulnerable, because of their weakness, deserve to be cared for first. The preferential option for the poor and vulnerable is the fifth theme of Catholic Social Teaching.
A good test for respecting human dignity and working for the common good is to see how those who are poor and vulnerable are being treated in society. Something is wrong in a community that has an abundance of resources, but some of its members lack nutritious food and employment opportunities. Sister Betsy Van Deusen, director of community partnerships at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany, and Deacon Kevin Sartorius, CEO of Catholic Charities Eastern Oklahoma, discuss the pastoral foundations and practical aspects to the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable.