February 11, 2013

It is perhaps the death of a Catholic vision in Canadian politics, and the Conservative government has been driving a stake through its heart. The latest blow is slashing the foreign aid budget of the CCODP, reducing that aid to a for-profit business venture (“Ottawa had no reason to slash CCODP funding,” WCR, Jan. 28).

The Catholic vision had been one of ecumenical partnership with government for true aid for the authentic development of peoples. That vision was expressed in a catalytic way in the 1967 encyclical, Populorum Progressio, inspiring the over 45 years of CCODP collaboration with the Canadian government.

The current government’s blatant cynicism in reducing that aid to for-profit business sees human beings in a way described by Mary Jo Leddy: “Through original sin, so the reformers believed, the inner structure of the human being had not only been weakened but also severely corrupted. Thus the exercise of political power was seen as inevitably destined for corruption.

“The Protestant spirit eventually found a worldly foothold in the political shape of liberal democracy and in the economic form of capitalism. In these political and economic models, there was a minimalizing of the extent to which authority or power could be exercised over the free will and autonomy of the individual.” (Radical Gratitude p. 85)

Such human and political cynicism is not part of our tradition. Populorum Progressio expects much more of government. Have we Catholics also regressed to reducing all public action, including foreign aid, to the profit motive, to the cynicism of greed?

Charlie Weckend
Ft. McMurray