|Solidarity with the rich - Jul 15|
|2012 - Viewpoint|
|Friday, 13 July 2012 14:46|
In December 1987, Pope John Paul II published his encyclical Letter “On Social Concern of the Church”( Solicitudo Rei Socialis), to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the landmark 1967 document of Catholic Social Teaching Pope Paul VI’s “On the Development of Peoples” (Populorum Progessio) and the long tradition of concern for social justice in the Old Testament, in the witness and Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in the history of Christianity.
In “Social Concern” Pope John Paul II identified the concept of solidarity with the poor and marginalised as a constitutive element of the Gospel and essential for lasting peace.
Some quotes from the Encyclical:
“Solidarity... is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all” (#38).
“A world divided into blocs, in which instead of solidarity imperialism and exploitation hold sway, can only be a world structured in sin. Those structures of sin are rooted in sins committed by individual persons, who introduced these structures and reinforced them again and again. One can blame selfishness, shortsightedness, mistaken political decisions, and imprudent economic decisions; at the root of the evils that afflict the world there is – in one way or another – sin” (#36).
“Solidarity is a Christian virtue. It seeks to go beyond itself to total gratuity, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It leads to a new vision of the unity of humankind, a reflection of God's triune intimate life;…”(#40).
“Solidarity helps us to see the 'other' – whether a person, people or nation – not just as some kind of instrument, with a work capacity and physical strength to be exploited at low cost and then discarded when no longer useful, but as our 'neighbour,' a 'helper' to be made a sharer on a par with ourselves in the banquet of life to which all are equally invited by God” (#39).
“Interdependence must be transformed into solidarity, grounded on the principle that the goods of creation are meant for all. Avoiding every type of imperialism, the stronger nations must feel responsible for the other nations, based on the equality of all peoples and with respect for the differences” (#39).
There must therefore be an error in the title of this article. It can’t be “Solidarity with the Rich”. But wait!!
A headline from a Spanish newspaper last month announced that the “Euro zone finance ministers agreed to lend Spain up to 100 billion euros (US$125 billion) to shore up its teetering banks” and then noted that this was more that the entire aid allocation from the all the world’s wealthy countries to all poor countries pledged for 2012.
Another report from the UK Guardian quoted a study by the Overseas Development Institute which estimates that over the next 12 months, “the world's poorest countries will receive a US$238 billion hit from Europe's sovereign debt crisis as the knock-on effects from weak growth and austerity in the single currency zone affect trade, aid, investment and remittances”. This astronomical price that the poor of the world are paying for the crisis affecting the rich, unfortunately but not surprisingly, has received virtually no coverage or echo in the world’s press.
No one is dying of hunger in the EU or the US because of the economic crises since 2008, provoked largely by the speculative and over-reaching greed of the 1% of the world’s wealthiest, including banking elites. (There have been isolated well-publicised cases of suicides in Europe). On the other hand gross capital flows to developing countries plunged to $170 billion last year compared with $309 billion in 2010, according to the World Bank’s 2012 “Global Economic Prospects” report. OXFAM links this fall to a sharp rise in the developing world’s hungry population (now 1 in7, almost 1billion people). Hundreds, perhaps thousands of the world’s poor have already died of hunger as part of the price paid by the poor for the crisis of the rich. The international analyses of the Euro crisis pay little or no attention to this “collateral damage”.
The conventional wisdom, based on the horrific crisis in the US and the world’s financial markets following the collapse of Lehmann Brothers, the 10th largest US investment bank, and the largest bankruptcy in US history, is that the world’s large banks and developed countries (like Greece) cannot be allowed to fail, and that the only future for the world’s poor is to continue to sacrifice by higher taxes and harder work for less pay in solidarity with the rich.
The Gospel message of Solidarity with the Rich is radically different. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his Life” (Mt 16:26). Indeed there is a powerful message of Solidarity with the Rich to be preached and lived by example. That true happiness, true peace, true joy does not lie in the accumulation of wealth.
Solidarity with the rich can be expressed no better than in the words and example of Jesus in Matthew 6: 24,25 and 33:
“No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money. 'That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing!….
Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God's saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well.”________________________________________________________________________________________ **DISCLAIMER**: User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Camsel/Catholic News or its staff. Camsel/Catholic News accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments. Please help us keep our site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option. Camsel/Catholic News reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed. Before posting, please refer to the Comments Policy under Resources