6.3.5 Response to Exercise

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Here are three points that seem to me most significant.  You might well have come up with others.

1.  The strong emphasis (in #35) that the lack of development since PP is fundamentally a matter of moral and political responsibility might at first seem to be a statement of the obvious. But there are at least two reasons why it is not:

*  This insistence on “the essentially moral character of development” is a denial that we can attribute failure in development to impersonal forces or structures over which people have no control.  We cannot blame it, for instance, on an uncontrollable market economy or on inevitable class conflict.

*  The pope’s emphasis that this moral responsibility is also political, and therefore that lack of development is because “political will has been insufficient”, amounts to a very sharp critique of those in power.  He is saying that the shocking reality of extensive poverty in the global South is, in large part, the fault of governments across the world: they could have acted to overcome it but have not.  Of course, in democratic countries, governments are accountable to the people, so that certainly does not let citizens off the hook: the insufficient political will is on the part of those in power and their electorates.  The next screen, about solidarity, will take this point further.

2.  Even though John Paul has rejected the idea that there are structural factors that are beyond human responsibility, he goes on to make clear that ‘structures of sin’ are central in his analysis of the reasons for lack of development:

[A] world which is divided unto blocs, sustained by rigid ideologies, and in which instead of interdependence and solidarity different forms of imperialism hold sway, can only be a world subject to structures of sin (#36).

However,

[these structures] are rooted in personal sin, and thus always linked to the concrete acts of individuals who introduce these structures, consolidate them and make them difficult to remove. (#36)

3.  Pope John Paul is even-handed in seeing structures of sin in struggles for political power and in abuse of economic power. Among the “actions and attitudes” that are opposed to both God’s will and to the good of neighbour, and the structures they generate, “two are very typical”.

[There is] on the one hand, the all-consuming desire for profit, and on the other, the thirst for power, with the intention of imposing one’s will upon others. In order to characterize better each of these attitudes, one can add… “at any price”. (#37)

 

END OF RESPONSE

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