Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Social Justice and Human Dignity

The Ctholic Church gets a bad press these days and is often dismissed as irrelevant by many in the 'West'. However, the Church does some tremendous work in the promotion of social justice and human dignity in the world.

Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga is the leader of the Catholic Church in Honduras and a leading proponent of Social Justice. He is a modern day hero!

Here are some quotes from a recent Tablet article that I found absolutely inspirational: (

On the $700 billion bail out of Wall Street:
"Seventy billion?” incredulous at the figure, then he realises his error. "No, seven hundred billion!" President of Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based umbrella organisation for Catholic charities in 162 nations, Rodríguez shakes his head and says: "I am very sad that the riches of this country [the United States] are being used to save big corporations who we don't know are honest or corrupt."
He repeats the astonishing sum: "Seven hundred billion. Can you imagine that money, and only because people are not able to run their corporations in the right way. How come it is always the money of the poor that is lost? How come the money of the rich is always saved? I'm not blaming or accusing, just putting the facts on the table. When it comes to alleviating poverty, there are no resources. But when it comes to saving the rich, there are always resources."

On Third World and First World:
"We need to be able to imagine ourselves not in a Third World and a First World but in one world in which our duties to the poor are shared. We need to imagine a world in which the needless deaths of nearly 10 million children a year are an abomination that cannot be tolerated,"

On Liberation Theology:
"few people will talk about liberation theology these days". He himself is not so reticent. Rodríguez recalled a conference on the Church's social teaching two years ago in Mexico where Fr Gustavo Gutiérrez, the Peruvian theologian considered a founder of liberation theology, was asked if the movement was dead. "I don't know if it is dead. I was not invited to the funeral," the cardinal says Gutiérrez quipped before adding: "Eighty per cent of liberation theology is the option for the poor, and this is alive." Cardinal Rodríguez himself seconds that view, and it is one he always preaches at the Vatican, where he says officials "don't know the reality on the ground". That reality, he says, is one of the markers differentiating the Church in the underdeveloped South from that of the industrialised North.

On Development:
"Development is the new name for peace," Paul VI declared more than 40 years ago in his great social justice encyclical, Populorum Progressio, and Cardinal Rodríguez sees the same challenge today. Yet this is not a question of a one-way sacrifice, North to South, he says, rather it is about rectifying an imbalance across the board. He points to labour being concentrated in the South and capital in the North. He contrasts residents in the southern hemisphere being held back by the basics they cannot afford, while those in the North seek luxuries they cannot afford, and adds: "When you do not have limits, you always need more. So you get this vicious cycle that leads the economy to this crisis."
"Let's think of goals that are not economic," says Rodríguez. "It is a big mistake to reduce life to the economic sphere. There is no time for writing, thinking, reflecting - using your brain to be more, not to have more."
"There should be limits. This is wisdom."

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