Independent Catholic News logo Welcome Visitor
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Text: Gordon Brown's Pope Paul VI CAFOD Memorial Lecture - part 1
Comment Email Print
¬† Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown gave CAFOD's 2004 Pope Paul VI memorial lecture last night. The text of his lecture follows below. To be asked to address you tonight, to be part of this great lecture series in memory of Pope Paul VI is both humbling and challenging. It was Pope Paul VI who as early as the 1960s alerted the modern world that the old evil of poverty had to be addressed as an unacceptable scourge of the new global economy. It was Pope Paul VI who in 1967 in his 'Encyclical Populorum Progressio' ≠ 'Development of Peoples' ≠ urged upon the richest countries their sacred duty to help the poorest. And it was Pope Paul VI who set out, for our generation, the obligations that we all have a duty to meet: obligations that arise from - as he said in his own words: * Our mutual solidarity; * The claims of social justice; * And universal charity. In his book 'The Power of Myth' Joseph Campbell describes a hero as someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than him or herself. And today I want to honour not just the legacy of Pope Paul VI but all of you here tonight ≠ missionaries, aid workers, supporters, contributors, campaigners - as our modern heroes. For just as surely as some of our greatest heroes of history, your religious faith, your moral anger at poverty, your sense of duty, has led you to fight for great causes, stand for the highest ideals and do God's work on earth. And let me on your behalf thank Cardinal Murphy O'Connor whom I and the British people admire so much for his leadership not just in this country but throughout Europe; Chris Bain for leading CAFOD and for his crucial, catalytic role in bringing the 'Make Poverty History' campaign together; and all members of CAFOD. The reward you seek, as you have always said, is not recognition nor status nor titles nor money but that the coming generation - who never even knew you - enjoys a better life thanks to your courageous work. And I also want to pay my personal tribute to the work of CAFOD over forty years and your leadership in achieving, by your determined campaigning, what many thought impossible - 100 per cent bilateral debt relief. You led a coalition whose voices rose to a resounding chorus that echoed outwards to the world from Birmingham, then from Cologne, then from Okinawa - a clarion call to action speaking not for yourselves alone but for the hopes of the whole world. And you led a coalition that achieved more standing together for the needs of the poor in one short year than all the isolated acts of individual governments could have achieved in one hundred years. Reminding us that as CAFOD campaigning for justice for the world's poor you have for forty years: * Changed the way we think about giving; * Deepened our commitment to serving others; * Demonstrated that duty and obligation are more powerful than selfishness or greed; And in doing so brought the world closer together. Now, it is the churches and faith groups that have, across the world, done more than any others - by precept and by example - to make us aware of the sheer scale of human suffering - and our duty to end it. Indeed, when the history of the crusade against global poverty is written, one of its first and finest chapters will detail the commitment of the churches in Britain to help the world's poor. And my theme tonight is what this generation working together, each and all of us, can do - that we are not powerless individuals but, acting together, have the power to shape history. And each of us, building on the individual causes we cherish - from work on debt relief to education, from fair trade to clean water, from blindness to TB, from AIDS to child vaccination - can together not only make progress for our direct concerns but also turn globalisation from a force that breeds insecurity to a force for justice on a global scale. Today I want to sketch out for you a vision of a new deal that demands a new accountability from both rich and poor countries. A new compact between those to whom so much is given and those who have so little. More than a contract - which is after all one group tied by legal obligations to another - and nothing less than what the author of 'The Politics of Hope' called a 'covenant' - the richest recognising out of duty and a deep moral sense of responsibility their obligations to the poorest of the world. And I want suggest that at the same time as developing countries devising their own poverty reduction plans, we the richest countries must take three vital steps: first, agreeing a comprehensive financing programme - that is we achieve a breakthrough to complete 100 per cent debt relief; find a way to persuade others to join us in declaring their timetables on increasing development aid to 0.7 per cent of national income; and immediately raise an additional $50 billion dollars a year, doubling aid to halve poverty, through the creation of a new International Finance Facility; Second, with this new finance, that we advance to meet the Millennium Development Goals on health, education and the halving of poverty; use this unique opportunity to drive forward the internationalisation of AIDS research and the advance purchase of HIV/AIDS and malaria vaccines; build the capacity of health and education systems; and deliver to the 105 million children who do not go to school today, two thirds of them girls, our promise of primary education for all; and third, that we deliver the Doha development round on trade, and make it the first ever world trade agreement to be in the interests of the poorest countries. Indeed, because progress on each of these is dependent on progress on all of these, we must during 2005 advance all of these causes together. Exactly five years ago in New York and in a historic declaration every world leader, every international body, almost every single country signed up to a shared commitment to right the greatest wrongs of our time. * The promise that by 2015 every child would be at school. * The promise that by 2015 avoidable infant deaths would be prevented. * The promise that by 2015 poverty would be halved. This commitment was a bond of trust, perhaps the greatest bond of trust pledged between rich and poor. But already, so close to the start of our journey ≠ and 20 years after the problems were first exposed to this generation through Live Aid - we can see that our destination risks becoming out of reach, receding into the distance. And at best on present progress in Sub Saharan Africa: * primary education for all will be delivered not in 2015 but 2130 - that is 115 years too late; * the halving of poverty not by 2-0-1-5 but by 2-1-5-0 -- that is 135 years too late; * and the elimination of avoidable infant deaths not by 2015 but by 2165 -- that is 150 years too late. So when people ask how long, the whole world must reply: 150 years is too long to wait for justice. 150 years is too long to wait when infants are dying in Africa while the rest of the world has the medicines to heal them. 150 years is too long for people to wait when a promise should be redeemed, when the bond of trust should be honoured now in this decade. Martin Luther King spoke of the American Constitution as a promissory note. And yet - for black Americans - the promise of equality for all had not been redeemed. He said that the cheque offering justice had been returned with 'insufficient funds' written on it. He said, 'we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. And he said the time had come to 'cash this cheque which would give upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice'. And in this way he exposed on racial equality the gap between promises and reality. But in exactly the same way today's Millennium Goals - a commitment backed by a timetable ≠ are now in danger of being downgraded from a pledge to just a possibility to just words. Yet another promissory note, yet another cheque marked 'insufficient funds'. And the danger we face today is that what began as the greatest bond between rich and poor for our times is at risk of ending as the greatest betrayal of the poor by the rich of all time. As a global community we are at risk of being remembered not for what we promised to do but for what we failed to deliver, another set of broken hopes that break the trust of the world's people in the world's governments. And when we know the scale of suffering that has to be addressed, the problem is not that the promise was wrong, the pledge unrealistic, the commitments unnecessary but that we have been too slow in developing the means to honour, fulfil and deliver them. In the past when we as a global community failed to act we often blamed our ignorance ≠ we said that we did not know. But now we cannot use ignorance to explain or excuse our inaction. We can see in front of our TV screens the ravaged faces of too many of the 30,000 children dying unnecessarily each day. We cannot blame our inaction on inadequate science - we know that a quarter of all child deaths can be prevented if children sleep beneath bed?nets costing only 4 dollars each. We cannot defend our inaction invoking a lack of medical cures - for we know that as many as half of all malaria deaths can be prevented if people have access to diagnosis and drugs that cost no more than twelve cents. The world already knows we know enough. But the world knows all too well that we have not done enough. Because what is lacking is will. So if we are to make real progress we must - together from this meeting room this evening ≠ and then from countless other centres of concern and endeavour, go out into this country and other countries and show people and politicians alike everywhere why it is morally and practically imperative that we not only declare but fight and win a war against poverty; why we must not only pass resolutions and make demands but move urgently to remove injustice; why lives in the poorest countries depend upon converting, in the richest countries, apathy to engagement, sympathy to campaigning, half hearted concern to wholly committed action. In short we must share the inspiration we have of the power of the dream of a better world ≠ and why it is now more urgent than ever that people everywhere are awakened to the duties we owe to people elsewhere whose hopes for life itself depend upon our help, duties not just to people who are neighbours but to people who are strangers. So that even when we know that our sense of empathy diminishes as we move outwards from the immediate, face to face, person to person relationships of family outwards to neighbourhood to country to half a world away, we still feel and ought to feel however distantly the pain of others - and why it is right to believe in something bigger than ourselves, bigger even than our own community as a wide as the world itself. It has been written that, 'if we answer the question why we can handle the question how'. And this evening I am going to put forward three propositions: * that our dependence upon each other should awaken our conscience to the needs not just of neighbours but of strangers; * more than that, that our moral sense should impel us to act out of duty and not just self interest; * and that the claims of justice are not at odds with the liberties of each individual but a modern expression of them that ensures the dignity of all - and there is such a thing as a moral universe. First, does not Martin Luther King show our responsibilities to strangers, to people we have never met and who will never know our names, when he describes each of us as strands in an inescapable network of mutuality, together woven into a single garment of destiny? Indeed just as the industrialisation of the eighteenth century opened people up to a society which lay beyond family and village and asked individuals who never met each other to understand the needs of all throughout their own country, so too the globalisation we are witnessing asks us to open our minds to the plight and the pain of millions we will never meet and are continents away but upon whom, as a result of the international division of labour, we depend upon for our food, our clothes, our livelihoods, our security. I recalled a poem in my Labour conference speech: 'It is the hands of others who grow the food we eat, who sew the clothes we wear, who build the houses we inhabit; it is the hands of others who tend us when we're sick and lift us up when we fall; it is the hands of others who bring us into the world and who lower us into the earth' When I talked of the hands of others, I meant our dependence upon each other ≠ the nurse, the builder, the farm worker, the seamstress - not just in our own country but across the earth. We are in an era of global interdependence, relying each upon the other ≠ a world society of shared needs, common interests, mutual responsibilities, linked densities, our international solidarity. And since September 11th there is an even more immediate reason for emphasising our interdependence and solidarity. Now more than ever we rely on each other not just for our sustenance but for our safety and security. Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, states: 'What poverty does do is breed frustration and resentment which ideological entrepreneurs can turn into support for terrorism in countries that lack the political rights, the institutions, necessary to guard the society from terrorists. Countries that are lacking basic freedoms. So we can't win the war on terrorism unless we get at the roots of poverty, which are social and political as well as economic in nature'. And President Bush said on the eve of the Financing for Development Conference in Monterrey: 'Poverty doesn't cause terrorism. Being poor doesn't make you a murderer. Most of the plotters of September 11th were raised in comfort. Yet persistent poverty and oppression can lead to hopelessness and despair. And when governments fail to meet the most basic needs of their people, these failed states can become havens for terror. In Afghanistan, persistent poverty and war and chaos created conditions that allowed a terrorist regime to seize power. And in many other states around the world, poverty prevents governments from controlling their borders, policing their territory, and enforcing their laws. Development provides the resources to build hope and prosperity, and security' So does not everything that we witness across the world today from discussing global trade to dealing with global terrorism symbolise just how closely and irrevocably bound together are the fortunes of the richest persons in the richest country to the fate of the poorest persons in the poorest country of the world even when they are strangers and have never met, and that an injury to one must be seen as an injury to all? But is not what impels us to act far more than this enlightened self-interest? Ought we not to take our case for a war against poverty to its next stage - from economics to morality, from enlightened self interest that emphasises our dependence each upon the other to the true justice that summons us to do our duty - and to see that every death from hunger and disease is as if it is a death in the family? For is there not some impulse even greater than the recognition of our interdependence that moves human beings even in the most comfortable places to empathy and to anger at the injustice and inhumanity that blights the lives not just of neighbours but of strangers in so many places at so high a cost? It is not something greater, more noble, more demanding than just our shared interests that propels us to demand action against deprivation and despair on behalf of strangers as well as neighbours - and is it not our shared values? It is my belief that even if we are strangers in many ways, dispersed by geography, diverse because of race, differentiated by wealth and income, divided by partisan beliefs and ideology, even as we are different diverse and often divided, we are not and we cannot be moral strangers for there is a shared moral sense common to us all: * Call it as Lincoln did - the better angels of our nature; * Call it as Winstanley did - the light in man; * Call it as Adam Smith did - the moral sentiment; * Call it benevolence, as the Victorians did; virtue; the claim of justice; doing one's duty. * Or call it as Pope Paul VI did ≠ 'The good of each and all' It is precisely because we believe, in that moral sense, that we have obligations to others beyond our front doors and garden gates, responsibilities to others beyond the city wall, duties to others beyond our national borders as part of one moral universe - precisely because we have a sense of what is just and what is fair - that we are called to answer the hunger of the hungry, the needs of the needy the suffering of the sick whoever and wherever they are bound together by the duties we feel we owe each other. We cannot be fully human unless we care about the dignity of every human being. * Christians say: do to others what you would have them do to you. * Jews say: what is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. * Buddhists say: hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. * Muslims say: no one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. * Sikhs say: treat others as you would be treated yourself. * Hindus say: this is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you. Faiths that reveal truths not to be found in economic textbooks or political theory - beliefs now held by people of all faiths and none - that emphasise our duty to strangers, our concern for the outsider, the hand of friendship across continents, that say I am my brother's keeper, that we don't only want injustice not to happen to us, we don't want injustice to happen to anyone. Indeed the golden rule runs through every great religion - or what the Bible calls righteousness or what you and I might call justice - and the words of Gandhi reinforce this golden rule: 'Whenever you are in doubt apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Then, he said, you will find your doubts melt away.' So we are not - morally - speaking in tongues. And while there are many voices from many parts and many places, expressed in many languages and many religious faiths, we can and must think of ourselves coming together as a resounding chorus singing the same tune - and as a choir achieving a harmony which can move the world. So our interdependence leads us to conclude that when some are poor, our whole society is impoverished. And our moral sense leads us to conclude, as we have been told, that when there is an injustice anywhere, it is a threat to justice everywhere. But can we not also say ≠ and this is my third point - that, even when we are talking about the needs of strangers, the claims of justice ≠ that we should do our duty to ensure the dignity of every individual - are now more powerful than ever? It is because the dignity of the individual is at the heart of our concerns about human beings, that those claims of justice are not ≠ as many once argued - at odds with the requirement for liberty but are essential for the realisation of liberty in the modern world. In her recent book Gertrude Himmelfaarb shows that, when the 17th and 18th centuries brought a revolt against outmoded forms of hierarchy, there was understandably a preoccupation not with justice or duty but with liberty. In 1789 'liberty' literally came before 'equality' and 'fraternity'. The call for freedom from outmoded forms of hierarchical obligations was then the only path to ending the power of absolute monarchs and repealing old mercantilist laws. But although the great Enlightenment philosophers marched under the banner of liberty, rightly wishing to prevent any ruler invading the freedom of the citizen, a closer reading of these writers shows that, for them, the march of individual freedoms did not release people from their obligations to their fellow citizens and fulfilling the duties they owed to each other. For them liberty was not at odds with justice or duty but liberty and duty advanced together.
Share:  Bookmark and Share
Tags: None

Powered by Bondware
News Publishing Software

The browser you are using is outdated!

You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!

Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: