Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 12, 1999
Gospel challenges established disorder
The response of the G-7 leaders to the Jubilee 2000 campaign is not yet cause for jubilation. It is true that the petition of some 13 million citizens was considered and some IMF gold bricks will be sold to write off the unpayable debt of some countries.
This has nothing to do with justice, but is simply facing the facts. You can't pluck hair from a frog.
A real conversion would have meant that the creditor nations would have realized that they are deeply indebted to the Third World for their immense wealth.
But the system is still firmly in place and more action on the part of the people is required "to break the bonds of sin," as Father Rutilio Grande said, "which prevent the realization of peace, justice and love in society."
The products of this sin, he said, are "poverty, hunger, broken families, abandoned children, unemployment, violence and deception."
Grande was murdered in 1977 by the El Salvador military for making these and other audacious statements.
A month before his death he lamented in a sermon that "it is practically illegal to be an authentic Christian in our environment, precisely because the world which surrounds us is founded radically on an established disorder before which the mere proclamation of the Gospel is subversive."
To point this out has been the aim of Jubilee 2000 right along.
No system, whether it goes by the name democracy or not, delivers justice automatically. The wealth tends to concentrate in the hands of the few and from time to time some serious readjustment has to take place.
In the neo-liberal system all barriers are being removed to facilitate the transfer of wealth from those who have little to those who want it all.
The MAI was such a proposition. The transfer of private debts to public liability is another example. So is the enforcement strategy of structural adjustment programs. All of these systems create poverty and favour the very rich.
Justice demands constant vigilance and the god of the marketplace cannot be relied upon to watch over those who are trampled in the rush for profits. Nor can we rely on bankers, investment officers or ministers of trade and finance. Their loyalty is to the few.
It would take only $200 billion to cancel the illegitimate debts of the world's poorest people. The G-7 leaders pulled well short of this goal.
Yet, several hundreds of billions of dollars were found within a short time to bail out the banks during the Southeast Asia crisis. Nor did there seem to be a shortage of money to wage an illegal war in the Balkans.
Obviously the money is there, it's just that we haven't got our priorities straight.
And it is these priorities that the protracted struggle for liberation was about in Central America these past decades. Grande said "it was a matter of being or not being faithful to the mission of Jesus here and now. And for being faithful there would be reprisals, calumnies, blows, torture, kidnappings, bombs and, if one was an outsider, expulsion."
For Grande it meant death; for the poor it means exclusion; for those who demanded justice it often meant disappearance. But the clamour for justice has not disappeared and the vision of peace with justice is not dead.
One doesn't need to be a Christian or believe in Jesus to realize our current economic system is grossly unjust. The fact that we are all members of the human family demands that no one be excluded.
So let us continue to sound the trumpet loud and proclaim liberty throughout the world for this shall be a year of jubilee.
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