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Lecturer says church stands alone in war on poverty

The Church stands alone in its efforts to highlight "the moral imperative" of addressing poverty, according to Harvard Professor Mary Ann Glendon, who has been in Australia to deliver the Caritas Helder Camara Lecture.

The Catholic Weekly reports that she said affluent nations are washing their hands of poor countries and poor people, and that the UN Declaration of Human Rights is under attack, particularly in the areas of economic and social justice.

Some African and Asian nations claim it does not reflect their values, while in the Muslim world it has been dismissed as "nothing but a Western document".

"Human rights groups have continued the Cold War practice of selectively promoting the parts of the Declaration they favoured while ignoring others," she said "The parts that speak to economic and social justice are being almost completely ignored.

"It is a moral scandal that the poorest people and countries are being increasingly marginalised in the global order just when, perhaps for the first time, we have recognised that poverty is not necessary; not fixed in the order of things," she said. Only the Church continued to lift up before the world the moral imperative of addressing poverty, she added.

The Church doesnot treat poor people as problems to be solved. Rather it "exhorts us to view the disadvantaged as persons whose human potential "deserves to be realised," she said

Caritas Helder Camara Lecture Series (Caritas Australia Media Release)

Catholic Weekly

20 Jun 2002