Page 4, 7th April 1967

7th April 1967
Page 4
Page 4, 7th April 1967 — Barbara Ward and Cardinal Discuss Poverty The CATHOLIC HERALD publishes

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People: Barbara Ward, Heenan
Locations: Rome, Calcutta


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Barbara Ward and Cardinal Discuss Poverty The CATHOLIC HERALD publishes

a summarised extract of the conversation on I.T.V. last Sunday between Cardinal Heenan and Barbara Ward (Lady Jackson), the economist. who is a member of the Pontifical Commission for Studies on Justice and Peace.

CARDINAL—We are going to talk about the problem as it affects Christians and indeed all believers in God. I wonder if you would begin by telling us what you regard the problem as, the whole thing.

B.W. The North Atlantic,

this one third segment of the world, which is a Christian, or perhaps one should say a post-Christian society, not only has overwhelming wealth but wealth that is actually growing. If you take the other two thirds—whose economies have yet to be modernised, whose economies still lack all those essential sinews of wealth, production, machines, flourishing agriculture, roads and power systems, the whole basis of wealth—you have people whose expectation of life is not much more than 30 years, while ours is now 70. You could expect still two out of every five children to die— ours is perhaps point 00 something. You would expect these people to have disease for a large part of their lives.

The kind of housing you see in Calcutta, which is a quarter of the pavement on which to sleep, or the appalling slum districts of Latin American cities, where you piece together something with a bit of old sacking, a bit from a petrol can and that's your roof, and there you bring up your family—that is the actual physical misery of poverty.

* * *

Cardinal—Now there are two things I want you to talk about. First, what do you think is the best way of tackling the problem of world want, and secondly, which is to be the main part of this conversation, where do we come in, you and I as Catholics, the whole Church.

B.W.— Well fundamentally I think the way to tackle it is the way it was tackled in our own society. After all, 150 years ago England was still a prey to famine. A 100 years ago our slums were very much like the cities of the Favellas now. What has happened in our Atlantic world, in our Western world, is that by the application of science and technology, the savings and the development of a whole technological system, we've just discovered ways of making more for less.

Now as I see it, the chief thing that is needed among two thirds of humanity, is to get this kind of system started, or continued, where it is started, so that the modernisation of the planet is in fact completed. It is no mystery. It can be done, it's been done by us.

* *

Cardinal — How do you think we're going to get the Great Powers, who are spend

"ing so much of their revenue on armaments, on defence,-to look at this as a No. 1 problem, even before defence? You once told me that even the increase from one year to another in wealth in America would be sufficient to solve all India's problems, remember?

B.W. — The resources are there. If you increase your national income by four per cent a year, one per cent is no sacrifice, so I'd say that if you could have a world tax of one per cent of national income, which would be transferred from rich to poor, so the poor were helped with education, housing, power, transport, and above all, with the transformation of their agriculture, that would ae the first application to the world of the kind of principles which we know work inside our own society.

* * *

Cardinal • You remember at the time of the Vatican Council the responsibility for the "have" nations for the conditions in the "have-not" nations .was very much in the minds of the Fathers. Now I suppose that most people know that after the Council this great Commission was set up for Justice and Peace, Realising that the two things go hand in hand and you were one of the two women chosen by the Pope to advise to be a member of this Commission, I wonder if you'd like to say a little about this Commission.

B.W.—Well, this brings us to the question of what Christians have to do about this and I must say that in the year when the question of setting this up was going ahead with all the questions of the form it should take, the assistance of the American and the British, English-speaking Bishops here was tremendous. I really felt that they were making a breakthrough towards getting world poverty right to the top of the Church's agenda.

Now what I hope the Commission can do is basically an educational job in the first place because this wealthy world, where the wealth I described is in fact going ahead, is post-Christian. The Christians are, 1 suppose, a minority — I suppose 15-20 per cent — but if they were an active minority, all the religious groups acting together, really knowing their stuff, just think what a pressure group it could be.

So my first point is, let us learn, let the Christians be the people who know the facts, let Christians be people who know the contrasts, who know that as we eat, babies die.

* * *

Cardinal — A great advance has been made with the Catholic and the Protestants of every kind to work together. The British Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches and ourselves, we are really not acting as rivals in this thing, we're sharing all our knowledge and our endeavour so the outlook from that point of view is very, very good.

B.W.—Splendid, Well now, if the Commission set up in

Rome, working closely with the World Council of Churches, can make Christians aware of these contrasts, and in their own countries too, and if then they can really begin a sustained lobby with their Parliaments, so that every single elected member of Parliament knows that there is an active, totally convinced minority, determined to get, let's say, one per cent of the national income into an international treaty so that it becomes part of the furniture of the world, not something we do exceptionally, but something we do because we're human, because we're members of the human race, with that surely the Christian can make this 100 per cent commitment.

* * *

Cardinal—I'd like you to explain a little more clearly what this new Commission for Justice and Peace really is. There are many people who regard the church as a worshipping community in the sense of singing hymns, but we know that worshipping means much more than that, it means seeing God in the poor and the young and the sick.

Now when we were struggling hard during the Vatican Council to get this thing going, our thought was not to have a collecting machine, not to have a system whereby there'd be second collections at every Mass throughout the world. It was much more an educative thing, to teach people, especially young people, to do things for the poor, to get out and work for the poor. Would you like to say something about that?

B.W. The aim of the Com mission is this educative job but I think I'd go further and say it. isn't even going out to find the poor and help them, it is to help humanity to help itself. It is the idea that Christians should take the lead in creating a world community in which it's perfectly natural for those who've got resotfices to stimulate other people to make their own resources, to enable them to look after themselves, to enable them to be selfrespecting members of a total world community.

And why I think this the

special responsibility f o r Christians is that we have always talked, believed, hoped and prayed that we are a humane community, that we're not riven by nations, that we have useful differences but that we are brothers in the most literal sense. Now if you've got a brother the first thing you have to do is put him on his own feet, you don't want him as a pensioner, you want him as an upstanding man with self-respect with the ability to stand on his own feet.

Now as I see it what the Commission has to do is to get that feeling that we have a responsibility to finish off this modernising process in the world at large, to give people the chance of earning the kind of livings that we can and enjoying the benefits that we can and that we're never going to do that if we just leave it to happen, and, therefore, it's really a question of organising a Christian commitment and then conveying that to the societies in which we live and to the Governments who represent us.

Cardinal — What do you think we ought to do in England as part of this great movement of the Commission, we've got obviously to do all the work, haven't we? In each country . .

B.W.— In each country— yes. Well, first of all closest possible relationship between a local commission, which I hope you'll set up, and the British Council of Churches, which has done such magnificent work.

Cardinal—I think the fact that people like yourself, who are, after all, world authorities on economics, the fact that the church has chosen people like you to do this work, shows how very much in earnest we are. Now would you have a special word for young people. Don't you think that we ought to have, as a sort of ambition, that before they settle down to make money, before they settle down in their professions, they should give part of themselves, part of their time to the relief and to the instruction, training of people in the underdeveloped countries.

B.W.—I would love everyone whose education permits them, to take a year off, and those who can, two years, because after all we live for 70 now. You know we've got much longer lives to cope with. But having said that I think we also have to have very careful preparation to make sure that when they got into their developing land they found that they could act.

I mean you want preparations as careful as the peace corps and I myself would love to see, say, the missionary bodies of the Church getting young people out to do agriculture, to do educational training not simply as Catechists—well if that's their vocation O.K.—but as expressing their solidarity with the human race and that might be a quite new form of service of young people to the world and at the same time you'd probably get what you've discovered with the peace corps in America is that people come back.

They never, never look at the world the same way again, because they know what poverty looks like. The trouble about growing up in so many of our countries now is we're too affluent to know what it looks like any more.

* * *

Cardinal — You obviously believe that the face of the earth will be transformed if Christians will be quite determined to work together on this scheme. Now would you tell me this. How do you propose to persuade hard headed politicians to sacrifice one per cent — billions and billions of pounds.

B.W. — By a very old -fashioned method and that is making them see that the voters are interested and if they're not interested, they may be in trouble at the next election. I don't know any other way of persuading M.P.s. In other words you've got to have a lobby which is loud enough, aggressive enough, convinced enough and has staying power.

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