FROM A ROME CORRESPONDENT
A PREDICTION that mankind might choke in
fumes or drown in floods from the melting Polar icecaps if the proportion of cars per head of population in America was extended to the rest of the world was made in Rome last week by the economist and writer Barbara Ward (Lady Jackson).
She was addressing a plenary session of Pope Paul's Commission for Justice and Peace, which is composed mainly of lay experts. It was discussing the many problems menacing a world described by Miss Ward as "galloping towards environmental holocaust."
The author of a sombre report on future problems written at the request of the Commission, in which she predicted a decade of imbalance and violence, she said there was a pressing need to rethink the whole concept of development based on the principle of high consumption.
ANGRY PEASANTS the peasants, she said, were today "the most vocal of the world's have-nots. Soon there will be a world full of angry fedayeen from Calcutta to South Africa."
After hearing reports on the role of youth in world development and peace. on education and communication, and on development problems in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the Commission split into working groups to study specific problems and prepare proposals for voting by the plenary assembly this week.
Among the problems before different committees were allegations of torture and brutality in Brazilian jails and the racial situation in Southern Africa. Members said the Commission was powerless to take direct. action against abuses. Its job was to arouse Christian opinion and keep the Pope informed.
A Rhodesian member of the Commission. Mr. Bernard Chidzero, said there was little chance of the Commission, or the Vatican as a whole, following the example of the Protestant World Council of Churches and giving money to armed liberation groups in Southern Africa.
He said: "I cannot see anything like this happening. The Vatican is a State, and such action would he regarded as direct intervention in the affairs of other States.", Some members of the Cornmission said privately that the W.C.C. action had greatly improved the prestige of Churches among Africans.