Church joins rally to end poverty

The two British cardinals took a leading role in Saturday's rally in Edinburgh which called on the G8 meeting there later this week to cut debt and end unfair trade practices with the developing world.

Independent Catholic News reports that the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, stood at the head of the crowd, with Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland, "seemingly undisturbed by the ear-splitting chorus of whistles and constant thud of drums".

Cardinal Cormac said: "I am here because I feel strongly about world poverty and I speak a lot about world poverty, so I thought I should put my presence where my mouth is and join the people here to support them in their demonstration.

"I think today will make a difference. All the world leaders know we are representing thousands of others who cannot be here today, working to help them fulfil their pledges that they have made to the world."

A message from Pope Benedict XVI was read out by Cardinal O'Brien.

The Holy Father wrote: "As the Second Vatican Council teaches: 'God intended the earth and all it contains for the use of everyone and of all peoples; so that the good things of creation should be available equally to all' (Gaudium et Spes, 69). For this reason, people from the world's richest countries should be prepared to accept the burden of debt reduction for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, and should urge their leaders to fulfil the pledges made to reduce world poverty, especially in Africa, by the year 2015."

More than 225,000 are estimated to have taken part in the march. Amongst the hundreds of printed and home-made banners decrying all aspects of unfair trade, unpayable debt and insufficient aid, CAFOD supporters stood out by account of their ears large cardboard ones with the message "G8 leaders are you listening?"

Meanwhile Caritas Australia joined other aid organisations on Friday to launch the Make Poverty History campaign in Sydney.

Caritas Australia National Director, Jack de Groot, is Chairman of the campaign, which urges Australia to be far more aware of the extreme poverty that exists in some of the world's poorest countries.

"This campaign is about the appalling reality that a child dies every three seconds and that too many Australians don't know that is the reality. When people watch the Live 8 concert on television, they will think what can we do? We must do something and we must do it now," said Mr de Groot.

The launch of the Make Poverty History campaign sits in the historic moment where world leaders are not only about to gather at the G8 summit in Scotland. The UN meeting in September in New York will see the world leaders measure the progress to halve world poverty by 2015. In December, the leaders will came together again at the World Trade Organisation meeting that will take place in Hong Kong. Through the Millennium Development Goals, all three meetings will have the eradication of extreme poverty on the agenda.

"The Make Poverty History campaign was an opportunity for Caritas Australia to act in support of the hundreds of communities around the world that we support, and put the needs of these people in front of all Australians. We encourage the Australian government to commit to an increase in the amount of aid, fair trade and removal of debt," said Mr de Groot.

On another front, the St Vincent de Paul Society has continued to defend its research on the growing income equality in Australia, published at the end of May in its issues paper The Reality of Income Inequality.

Vinnies was targeted for criticism on three occasions, once by Peter Saunders of the Centre for Independent Studies (10 June) to which The Australian gave us the right of reply (15 June); then twice by columnist, Christopher Pearson (18, 25 June). Because Vinnies was not granted a right of reply to the more recent criticisms, research officer John Falzon has posted a response to the criticisms.

He provided data to back up a number of Vinnies' contentions that were denied by the critics, including the fact that income equality has grown significantly, and that Australia has one of the lowest levels of social expenditure as a percentage of GDP amongst the 29 OECD countries.

Cardinals lead march around Edinburgh (Independent Catholic News 4/7/05)
Caritas Australia joins in the campaign to Make Poverty History (Caritas Australia 1/7/05)
"We will not be silenced" - Vinnies (St Vincent de Paul Society 3/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Stats and Stones: Vinnies' report from the trenches on the poverty wars (St Vincent de Paul Society 3/7/05)
Make Poverty History
St Vincent de Paul Society | text of paper

Vinnies continues to argue case for bottom 10% (CathNews 9/6/05)
Vinnies says poor are losing (CathNews 30/5/05)

Pope presses G8 on aid to Africa (Catholic World News 4/7/05)
Sea of people call for end to world poverty (Independent Catholic News 4/7/05)
Debt remission must be extended to 38 poor countries (Vatican Information Service 4/7/05)
Pope hopes G8 will promote African development (Vatican Information Service 4/7/05)
Live 8 to G 8 (catholicireland.net 4/7/05)
Pope Benedict to Madrid Catholics: charity is the communication of truth (Catholic News Agency 4/7/05)
Pope calls on G8 leaders to 'eradicate poverty, promote authentic development' in Africa (Catholic News Agency 4/7/05)
Vatican backs measures to relieve debt to impoverished nations (Catholic News Agency 4/7/05)
Vatican officials join pressure on G8 (Catholic World News 4/7/05)
Cardinal tells Wogan of his prayers for the G8 (Independent Catholic News 4/7/05)
Edinburgh: The Minute's Silence (Independent Catholic News 4/7/05)
Pope Asks G-8 Nations to Ease Scourge of Poverty (Zenit 3/7/05)

5 Jul 2005