Laudato Si 52: Debt

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Foreign debt is very much in the news, especially this century’s indulgence for “get tough” economics. Which, of course, was an abject failure in the 1920’s, leading to an even more devastating political situation for Europe.

52. The foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned. In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future.

The powerful exploiting natural resources where they can … not really different from the US federal government ejecting native from the southeast to exploit gold in the 1830’s. Does it poke American shame a bit further to know that the Trail of Tears was the inspiration for Hitler’s death camps?

The land of the southern poor is rich and mostly unpolluted, yet access to ownership of goods and resources for meeting vital needs is inhibited by a system of commercial relations and ownership which is structurally perverse.

Some might fuss, but I think this is an accurate assessment of the international situation. Part of the perversity is the nature of some Third World governments and the prominence of corruption. But still: corporations are equal partners in said corruption.

The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programs of sustainable development. The poorest areas and countries are less capable of adopting new models for reducing environmental impact because they lack the wherewithal to develop the necessary processes and to cover their costs. We must continue to be aware that, regarding climate change, there are differentiated responsibilities.

Sorting out the complexities of responsibility doesn’t mean throwing up our hands and exclaiming, “Too much!” Part of being an adult (as an individual, corporation, or a nation) is being able to take responsibility, to “man up” if you’ll forgive a sexist term.

USCCB cited:

As the United States bishops have said, greater attention must be given to “the needs of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests”.[USCCB, Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good (15 June 2001)] We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference.

There is no hiding, yes.



About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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