5.3.8 PP II.1. Solidarity: aid to poor nations (##45-55)

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Unit 5 Contents

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The same duty of solidarity that rests on individuals exists also for nations: “Advanced nations have a very heavy obligation to help the developing peoples”….. [I]t should be considered quite normal for an advanced country to devote a part of its production to meet their needs, and to train teachers, engineers, technicians and scholars prepared to put their knowledge and their skill at the disposal of less fortunate peoples. (#48, quoting Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, #86)

We must repeat once more that the superfluous wealth of rich countries should be placed at the service of poor nations. (#49)

This chapter of PP is a powerful and direct appeal for diverse forms of aid, private and public, that will address the scandal that “in whole continents countless men and women are ravished by hunger, countless numbers of children are undernourished, so that many of them die in infancy, while the physical growth and mental development of many others are retarded” (#45).

The text speaks for itself.  You will notice that it refers to Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31); this was a reading when we looked at the biblical background of CST in Unit 2 (2.2.5).

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Reading (4pp)

Populorum Progressio, Part II, chap. 1: ##45-55

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Reflection

Are there points in this reading that you find surprising?

Pope Paul refers to Caritas Internationalis in #46.  Were you aware of this organization before?

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Ever since 1951, Caritas Internationalis has been the Catholic Church’s main agency working to overcome poverty and for international development.  It is an umbrella body which has member organizations in many countries. These include three in Britain:

*  Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD)

*  Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN)

*  Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF)

Take ten minutes to look at Caritas Internationalis’s website.  The ‘History’ page is especially informative.

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Reading (4pp)

Website of Caritas Internationalis: http://www.caritas.org/

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In this chapter, PP is building on what MM had already said about aid (see 5.2.9); for example, the rejection there of ‘tied aid’ is reiterated in #52.  PP places more or less equal emphasis on non-governmental and governmental forms of assistance in tackling poverty.  Individuals are to be committed to giving support, at personal cost, and even to emigrate to emerging nations (#47).   At the same time, governments should divert some military expenditure to establish a “world fund to relieve the needs of impoverished peoples” (#51).  It would be easy to see this call for a single global fund as naïve, but what could be a more straightforward way of generating funds with which to tackle poverty? The world fund that Pope Paul called for has never been established, although similar calls are still made today.

Even though that proposal was not implemented, in two other ways PP anticipated the direction in which debate would go over the following decades.

Debt  The text flags up the issue of debt owed by poor countries.  They “risk being overwhelmed by debts whose repayment swallows up the greater part of their gains” (#54).  Such debt exists when institutions (governments or banks) in richer countries make loans to poorer countries – often intended to help to fund economic development.  This becomes a problem if interest rates rise, because then poorer countries have to pay large amounts back as interest.  Although we cannot look at the details here, that is exactly what happened in the 1970s.  The debts incurred became so large that many remained unpaid in the 1990s and were for many countries way beyond their capacity to pay.

That statement in PP anticipated this.  In the 1990s the great indebtedness of some of the world’s poorest countries became the focus of a huge campaign, Jubilee 2000, in which large numbers of Christians were involved. This demanded cancellation of such debts by the millennial year.  This was only partly achieved, so campaigning continued, and a substantial further debt cancellation was agreed at a summit of world leaders at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2005.

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Reflection

Can you, or perhaps older family members or friends, recall the Jubilee 2000 campaign and the successor Jubilee Debt campaign in the years through to 2005?  Were you or they involved?

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Trade   You will be aware of ‘fair trade’ products, for example coffee or chocolate, for which a guaranteed, higher-than-market price is paid to growers to seek to ensure they receive a just return for their work.  It was in the mid-1960s that what became the fair trade movement was beginning to grow.  PP plainly calls on people in affluent countries to make a point of purchasing fairly traded products.  It asks: are those who are rich “prepared to pay more for imported goods, so that the foreign producer may make a fairer profit?” (#47).

This mention of fair trade is a cue for moving to the next section in the encyclical which focuses on trade.

 

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End of 5.3.8

Go to  5.3.9   II.2 Social justice: equity in trade (##56-65)

 

Module B outline

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