… which ever source you use, charity is basically defined in the same manner; a generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering, aid given to the poor.
Nowhere did any of the sources define charity as the act of giving aid to the poor with conditional terms. Never would it have even occurred to me to offer charity and then apply conditional terms to what was being freely given. I am referring to Christian charity in this sense, not government subsidies. I liken government subsidies to some grotesque socialist perversion of the act of charity, in the sense that you are essentially forcing working individuals via salary taxation to fund welfare. Christian charity is completely different and based on selfless love.
Scanning through the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the topic of charity again I notice the absence of conditional terms tied to the virtue of giving. The same applies to mentions of charity within the Bible.
It’s so hard these days to not be cynical and look at scam artists as the rule and not the exception when it comes to charitable hand outs. At one point in my life I was very cynical about charitable giving but you’d be surprised how enough encounters with a few Missionaries of Charity will help you see the situation right.
I’ve discussed the topic of charity before on The Crescat [Version 1.0] but instead of speaking of charity in a generalized sense I want to examine it from the perspective of different Christian denominations.
Us Catholics, for the most part, will give without question because once you start questioning, your charitable act becomes the sin of pride and judgement. For myself, I would rather give what I can and not make demands or conditions because my only Christian responsibility is to give. I save the judging for Christ. So imagine my surprise to learn that some local religious organizations and protestant churches require that those seeking aid must attend a church service, watch a video sermon or agree to become a member of their parish! The Irish invented a word for such tactics, souperism.
Thankfully I have never had to suffer the humiliation of being forced to attend a protestant worship service in order to visit their food pantry. If the purpose is to evangelize, the practice would be counterproductive. I can imagine the indignity would only breed religious resentment.
However, when you give unconditionally the receiver is humbled with gratitude. Humility is a virtue that builds a soul up, resentment not so much. I can not even begin to fathom the logic that would apply to a church to require someone poor and suffering to endured that added injury.