While Jesus said we will "always have the poor" with us, "if each of us stops on his or her own journey to help a neighbour in need, the kingdom of God will come closer to realization each day," said Bishop George Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, in a pastoral letter on poverty.
With his words, Jesus "provides a sad reminder that due to the way we think about and react with each other, we will 'always have the poor' with us," added Murry.
But Jesus also called upon his followers, he said, "to see and love our neighbours as ourselves."
He said he fears that the historic concern for the poor has been lost.
"Sometimes we hear language and share attitudes that deride persons living in poverty," he said.