Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fighting to Eliminate Poverty

In his column on  the social teaching of the Church in the Peace Weekly, a seminary professor brings to our attention the poverty in the world and the efforts to eliminate it.

While in Rome he met many people from different nations and especially priests who were in Rome to study from Africa. Many of them had no help from the dioceses, and  had to make their spending money by helping out during the summer months. Korean priests were helped by their dioceses. African priest would be given scholarships from the Congregation of the Evangelization of People, but their personal expenses they would have to earn.

On their return to Africa you would see them bringing many household goods and electronic  equipment back with them to Africa.They would be going back to a difficult life, and a continent that was often at war and fighting against hunger to stay alive. Sadness was the feeling he had seeing these priests going back to Africa.

We have all seen the vast expanses of Africa and their many resources. They can climb a cocoanut tree for a  refreshing drink or gather some bananas but they all have owners. They have the largest amount of gold and diamonds in the world but the  wealth is not shared. The way it is shared depends on the  politics of the region. We have all seen on TV the  leaving of the continent by boat and the numbers who have died.

Pope Francis after becoming pope made his first pastoral visit  to the Italian island of Lampedusa  a stop over for many illegal emigrants from Africa  seeking refuge in Europe. The pope in his sermon  criticized the indifference of the international community and wanted to  awaken consciences and  the love we should have for humanity.The pope wants society and the  Church to take an interest in this great suffering of so many.

Lampedusa is only 120 miles from Tunisia and in the first half of 2013  the UN's Refugee Agency reported that 8,400 refugees had arrived on the island.The sinking of boats and the lost of life is all too well known. They are seeking a better life in Europe. Africa was invaded  and colonized and suffered at the hands of  Europe for centuries. After the second world war many of the nations became independent,  but because of the rule of despots and corruption many of the people were not able to free themselves from poverty. If there was a just sharing of the wealth we would not have the tragedies of Lampedusa.

"The fight against poverty finds a strong motivation in the option or preferential love of the Church for the poor. In the whole of her social teaching the Church never tires of emphasizing certain fundamental principles of this teaching, first and foremost, the universal destination of goods. Constantly reaffirming the principle of solidarity, the Church's social doctrine demands action to promote 'the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all '. The principle of solidarity, even in the fight against poverty, must always be appropriately accompanied by that of subsidiarity, thanks to which it is possible to foster the spirit of initiative, the fundamental basis of all social and economic development in poor countries. The poor should be seen not as a problem, but as people who can become the principal builders of a new and more human future for everyone.(Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church #449).