30 Sep 2010

From Knockpatrick to Kiyinda - Part 4 - Solidarity


“Africa wants a hand up, not a hand out”.

Brother Roger of Taize said in one of his talks to pilgrims, “Today more than ever before, a call is arising to open paths of trust even in humanity’s darkest hours…More and more people throughout the world are becoming aware of how urgent it is to come to the aid of the victims of poverty, a poverty that is constantly on the rise. This is a basic necessity to make peace on earth possible”.

Letting ourselves be penetrated by the thirst for God does not detach us from the concerns of the world....St Ambrose said, "It is not your property that you distribute to the poor, you are simply giving back to them what is theirs" .

A consistent theme in Catholic Social Teaching is option or love of preference for the poor. Today this preference has to be expressed in worldwide dimensions, embracing the immense numbers of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without medical care, and those without hope . 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 .
The promotion of justice is at the heart of a true culture of solidarity. It is not just a question of “giving one’s surplus” to those in need but of helping entire people presently excluded and marginalised to enter the sphere of economic and human development. For this to happen, it is not enough to draw on the surplus goods which in fact our world abundantly produces; it requires above all a change of lifestyles, of models of production and consumption, and of the established structures of power which govern societies. The development we speak of here cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man. As an eminent specialist on this question has rightly said: "We cannot allow economics to be separated from human realities, nor development from the civilization in which it takes place. What counts for us is man—each individual man, each human group, and humanity as a whole.'' Each man is also a member of society; hence he belongs to the community of man. It is not just certain individuals but all men who are called to further the development of human society as a whole. Civilizations spring up, flourish and die. As the waves of the sea gradually creep farther and farther in along the shoreline, so the human race inches its way forward through history. We are the heirs of earlier generations, and we reap benefits from the efforts of our contemporaries; we are under obligation to all men. Therefore we cannot disregard the welfare of those who will come after us to increase the human family. The reality of human solidarity brings us not only benefits but also obligations . Now in this matter one standard should hold true for all. What applies to national economies and to highly developed nations must also apply to trade relations between rich and poor nations. Indeed, competition should not be eliminated from trade transactions; but it must be kept within limits so that it operates justly and fairly, and thus becomes a truly human endeavour.

Solicitudo Rei Socialis §42
Solicitudo Rei Socialis §38

Centesimus Annus §58
Populorum Progressio §14
Populorum Progressio §17

Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Presence
Part 3 - Suffering
Part 5 - Friendships and Goodbye

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