Imagine yourself in an airplane flying over the ruins of a large Roman city. What will first strike your eye are the public theater, baths, and various basilicas devoted to civic functions. All of these buildings were funded by wealthy patrons of the city. If we change directions and fly over a medieval city, the picture will alter considerably. Instead of theaters and baths, we see the roofs of convents, hospices, hospitals, orphanages, and soup kitchens. Charity to the poor and suffering...
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Gary A. Anderson is the Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology at the University of Notre Dame. This essay is adapted from portions of the author’s new book, Charity: The Place of the Poor in the Biblical Tradition (Yale, 2013).