by John Madeley
THE LATE Barbara Ward's final gift to the Church was unveiled in London last week. It is a clearly argued and forceful booklet* setting out the Christian case for urgent action against world poverty.
The 20 page booklet is published by the Justice and Peace Commission. It is believed to be the author's last piece of writing before her death in May.
A letter has been sent to every priest in England, and Wales asking them to preach at a suitable time on world justice and to recommend the booklet to their congregations.
The booklet avoids facile optimism but leaves room for hope. At its launch last week Bishop James O'Brien, the Commission's president, said: "Too much pessimism has set in. Dame Barbara challenges us to find some clues for solving the problem."
She says that Christ's most explicit definition of those who will deserve eternal life, is that they feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house those without shelter and visit the sick and imprisoned. By his own example, Jesus "makes plain this absolute priority of sharing and selfless giving".
She stresses that today's unfavourable economic background means that Christians must buttress their duty to the poor with arguments drawn from rational self-interest. She cornmends the Brandt report.
But the British government's initial rough dismissal of Brandt
and its preference for "normal" trade showed that it had a limited concept of international solidarity and justice, she says.
Practical proposals for acton include a call for personal restraint and a suggestion that Catholic schools should undertake measures such as having a meal a week at the average standard of the poorest lands.
*-Peace and Justice M the World-. Dame Barbara Ward. 50p. J it P Commission, 38-40 Eecieston Square, London SR/