Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez from Honduras delivered a strong critique of free market globalisation at CAFOD's Pope Paul VI Memorial Lecture last Friday in London. The Archbishop of Tegucigalpa called for a "globalisation of solidarity" to counter the excesses of "savage" market liberalisation that has benefited the rich over the poor. The Cardinal argued that the historical achievements of the welfare state have been dismantled, and replaced by an "absolutism of capitalism" that is wrecking havoc, injustice and inequality. "We continue to live in a world full of flagrant inequalities, with the wealth increasingly concentrated in fewer hands," he said. "The world is becoming globalised to the rhythm of the major economic powers. "Economic globalisation without the globalisation of solidarity is suicide for the poor and thus for the majority of humanity." "It is a world where there is a desire to open up all frontiers to goods, while a host of obstacles hinders the free movement of people from the South to the North." Cardinal Rodriguez has witnessed first hand the unjust system of globalisation. Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, with 72 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Honduras owes $5.4 billion dollars in external debt. Cardinal Rodriguez describes the debt as a "tombstone". He says the money Honduras pays in servicing the debt means that there is much less the government can spend on health care and education. Cardinal Rodriguez is a passionate campaigner on debt. He was the Vatican's spokesperson with the World Bank and IMF on the issue. While the debt of Honduras has mushroomed, the country has also faced economic collapse in some of its leading export industries, especially bananas, coffee, and shrimp. The Cardinal wants a global campaign of solidarity to radically reform globalisation so that it works for the poor as well. He said: "We cannot continue to be blind. We are not just heading towards the globalisation of markets, but also towards the globalisation of poverty, which means accepting that for the poor, hope has been put to death." Cardinal Rodriguez explained solidarity as a concrete expression of the fundamental good of society. He said, "It comes from the discovery of interdependencies with our fellow men whom we feel inclined to help with their needs because they are persons. "Solidarity is achieved by seeing to it that all human beings share in the available goods as a whole." "Economic globalisation without the globalisation of solidarity is suicide for the poor and thus for the majority o humanity." Cardinal Rodriguez is a leading light of the Catholic Church in Latin America. His first passions were for aeroplanes and music, but they were soon replaced by devotion to the Church and to teaching. He was ordained in 1970 into the Salesian teaching order. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez says he never prayed for anything else but to be a Salesian teaching in Honduras. But he was made a bishop in 1978 and became the first cardinal in the history of Honduras in 2001. To read the entire speech (which in a pdf file), visit the CAFOD website at: www.cafod.org.uk
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