Only the Poor Will Pay – Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga

Why can the world find money to save banks, but not lives?

Caritas Internationalis President, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, discusses this worrying phenomenon in an interview with Italian magazine Famiglia

“Last spring, leaders who met in Rome said the there wasn’t enough money for the Millennium Development Goals, yet no one had any problem finding millions
of dollars for the banks,” said Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga.

In a recent interview with Famiglia Cristiana, Cardinal Rodriguez said that the current global crisis has not only created more poverty but it is the poor
who are paying the highest price.

“The petrol crisis, where prices went through the roof this summer, created 100 million poor people,” said Cardinal Rodríguez.

“To feed one billion malnourished people in the world, you only need US$30 billion per year, less than  5 percent of the White House’s bank bailout plan,”
he said.

The Cardinal says financial crimes surely produce more deaths than war, hunger, thirst and disease because of the poverty they cause, and should be punished.

He says the money that disappeared  during the current crisis has actually gone into the pockets of the rich – to the detriment of the poor. He says that
change is the only way forward.

“We have to understand that capitalism, the ruler of the world economy for the past 30 years, has failed,” he said. “It doesn’t need to be built up again,
it needs to be changed.”

Cardinal Rodríguez warned  that the recession will create more unemployment and there will be knock-on effects from this. He says that remittances from
Latin American immigrants in the USA have already started to go down.

The Church has a key role in establishing rules and guaranteeing everyone’s well-being, said the Cardinal.

“What we’re seeing today is above all an ethical crisis, where people don’t limit their wants,” he said. “This goes as much for military spending as it
does for the housing boom. The world doesn’t just revolve around money, there are other values.”

The Cardinal said that lack of trust as well as fear have contributed to the current climate.

“Fear rules us,” he said. “Fear of losing our money, fear of other nations, fear of not being able to buy things.

“Post-September 11th terrorism has achieved its aim: it has spread fear across the world and laid fertile ground for racism which produces poverty and closes

Cardinal Rodríguez said the current crisis is not about to end. On the contrary, it is only just beginning.







The above was posted on the Caritas Internationalis blog on 17 November 2008.


Although I don’t usually listen to the Church or anyone from the Church, this guy seems to be talking sense.  I agree with much of what he’s saying.  But there are a couple of points he glossed over.


He blames governments for not putting enough money towards the Millennium Development Goals, saying how little money it would take, but doesn’t mention why the Catholic Church still feels it necissary to hang on to all those priceless statues, paintings and relics when the sale price of them could probably feed the world.


It’s too easy to blame others.  There’s always someone else with more money, who’s more responsible, who we can blame for not doing anything about the problem and eas our own consciences.  The problem is us.  We have to start taking responsibility our selves.


If we demanded that our governments put more money into foreign aid than military spending, if eradicating poverty was truely our priority, I’m sure politicians would listen and alocate the budget accordingly.  But politicians know that most of us really care far more about our own pockets, our own jobs and mortgages than starving children in other countries.


I know that whenever I start thinking that I could be giving a lot more of my money to charity I soon start justifying why I need it more.  I tell myself that I will, as soon as I’ve payed this bill, or come back from that holiday, or as soon as I start earning more money etc etc.  And then I think that really it should be the responsibility of the government, or the rich people of the world, and that my small contributions wouldn’t really make much difference anyway.  They’re all just disgusting ways of trying to avoid my own responsibility by putting the responsibility and blame on someone else.  As long as we can continue finding someone else, some other country, institution or system to blame, we will never fix the problem of poverty.


That’s why I’m trying to take some advice from Michael Jackson, and start with ‘the man in the mirror’.


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Tom Humes said,

    Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

  2. 2

    anonymouslee said,

    It seems the best advice inevitably always comes from MJ.

    I remember having a discussion with a friend of mine once about poverty and how people need to start to care more and we need to think less about mundane things and concentrate on whats real. For example hey lets not spend $130 million dollars on making a million Baz Lurhman why not use the skills you used to get this money for a better cause? My friend then proceeded to explain to me that poverty wasn’t anyone’s fault and that it was just the natural order of things, a strategy if you will to control population growth, to let the weak members of humanity perish and the strong survive. Needless to say i was so shocked by her rationale it disturbed our friendship a little.

    I couldnt believe the directness and cruelty of these words. In my mind its the complete other way around its those people who struggle to find food on a daily basis, who scavenge the streets for items to sell who wake up every morning with no hope for a brighter day – they’re the strong ones, they’re the alpha men and women of humanity. Its not those who sit in their beautiful houses, with their expensive cars out the front drinking martini’s all day and getting botox. Put these two types of people in a race or a fight and you can bet your ass that its the ones who have fought every day to survive who are going to win.

    But maybe my friends words was some wierd way of justifying not doing something about a problem which is so big. A common response to mass problems is to ignore it, put it in the too hard basket and move on to something more manageable, its just when we choose to do this we avoid thinking about the consequences of such actions. Saying something is too hard is the easy way out. When in reality if you really try to overcome something that is ‘too hard’ it becomes quite easy. The ‘too hard’ mind frame is literally a cage restricting the actions of those who are morally aware of the problem but who think they are helpless to do anything about it. As soon as this attitude changes the closer we are to solving world poverty.

    We live in a material world, and yes i am a material girl but how important is all this stuff? Is a pair of jeans, a new phone, a night out drinking worth the same as someones life? Apparently so…

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