Catholic Interest

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    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    0.7 percent

    What a little bit is 0.7 percent. What a huge struggle to find that much
    spare cash to feed folks whose faces we can not see.

    But there' more. It's also a voluntary shift of power. Not much, but
    something. Us rich fat dudes are never rich enough. I know I'm not.

    What do we do with those parts of the New Testament Scripture that tells us
    the early Christians were known by "see how they love each other", and that they
    held all thing in common?

    We are simply unable to give that much power to someone else. Our own
    families would be less well off. Eventually our country would be less well off
    and powerful too. That's asking too much!

    First comes economic power. Then that has to be defended with military power.
    It's really that simple. Those early Christians were of some other time and
    place. An interesting sidenote to real power and security.

    When we share without considering our own economic interest first, we are
    giving away power to maintain our never-satisfied position in life, and trusting
    the person on the receiving end to not abuse their new amount of power against
    us. That's asking a lot. After they are fed, they will next want roads and
    schools, factories and banks, a military and a place at the decision table.

    So we struggle to make the sacrifice to get to 0.7 percent to even share the
    wealth to the extent other people might not starve. Under the current economic
    rules they have not earned the right to eat and live. They have obviously
    failed, and being the holders of the money to buy food, it is our prerogative to
    bail them out yet again, or not. We have bailed them out a little bit, but it is
    a tiring practice. After all, they will only return hungry again, hand out,
    dirty and dying.

    I don't know if God will judge us hashly for this or not. I heard 2 sermons
    this past Sunday about the reading of the Widow's Mite. How the poor woman gave
    all she had from her need to the temple, trusting God to supply her need for
    tomorrow's sustenance.

    Well, that's what the readings said anyway. One sermon had to do with sharing
    a smile with one's neighbor and to trust God, and the other sermon talked about
    finding the love in one's heart to relate to one's neighbor without bias and

    OK, what exactly were we to do with that advice except be more nice? Neither
    sermon said we had to accept the world with solidarity, and share wealth until
    all power and hunger were equal. That would have been a bit much. Considering
    the empty pews already in church, I think they would have been quickly

    Well then, if we don't have to share the power to that extent (thank you God
    for making only benign requests of us), maybe 0.7 percent wouldn't be too much
    to ask.

    Then again, Jesus did say that the poor we will always have with us. And
    after all, I may be the poor he was talking about. I certainly don't feel rich.
    And if they will always be with us, perhaps that is the way with our fallen
    nature. Best leave things as they are.

    And after all, I don't really hate my neighbor so I have that covered. And I
    guess I could smile more.. yes that I could do if I were in the mood.

    Well, there you have it then. Let's proceed. God help us, we do trust in you
    after all to the extent practical.


    The greatest worldwide threat is not North Korea's nuclear testing, the war in Iraq or terrorism, said Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace.

    The greatest threat, he said, is poverty.

    "Half of mankind lives in absolute poverty," he told The Catholic Spirit Oct. 23. "There are 800 million persons who go to bed without eating," 200 million of whom are children, he said.

    However, in the midst of other attention-grabbing world events, the prominence of poverty is often forgotten, he said.

    Current world conflicts have fewer victims than hunger and poverty, he said.

    "We have 50,000 people dying every day of hunger and defeat, [including] children," he said.
    Cardinal Martino, 73, spoke at the University of St. Thomas Oct. 23 and at St. Olaf in Minneapolis Oct. 24 for its "Faith and Work Breakfast."

    Odd how hunger was the topic at 'breakfast'. We are always eating it

    During his two lectures, he spoke about Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, and Catholic social teaching on human work.

    If the church and world worked together to eliminate poverty and hunger, the world will be much more peaceful, the cardinal said.

    Around the world, the Catholic Church is viewed as the greatest agency of development, the cardinal said.

    "You cannot imagine what is done in developing countries by the missionaries [including] social initiatives, hospitals," he said.

    U.S. Catholics are especially generous and great work has resulted from their donations, he said. However, he added, individuals are not enough.

    "We have to continue to do [this], and not only [by] our personal initiatives, but also to convince the governments to take initiative," he said.

    In 1970, wealthy nations committed to giving 0.7 percent of their gross national income to developing nations. Only five countries have kept their promise, Cardinal Martino said. The United States and Italy, Cardinal Martino's home, are not among them, he said.

    This initiative has recently been renewed by the United Nations to meet 0.7 percent by 2015. If this level of assistance was met, billions of dollars would be available to developing countries, he said.

    Oops, there's a mention of the United Nations.. a bad word here in America.
    They are a failure with their hand always out also. Besides, on a political
    level they are run by idiots. Better if the Cardinal had left mention of them

    And it would help powerful nations gain back their credibility, because breaking promises can result in conflict, Cardinal Martino said.

    "We have to see the causes [of conflict]," he said. "Conflict can start with poverty. ... When there are people who are hungry or in poverty, they will be angry."

    Good Cardinal, let's get to the point. Either we have to be poor by sharing
    as Jesus seemed to advise, or not. Please do not worry us about whether the
    starving folks will be angry with us, start a war, and try to steal what we

    Get to the point, or Jesus may have to wait another 2,000 years before he
    returns in Judgement.


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