Fri, Apr 06, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Pope Benedict attacks rich states in upcoming book


Pope Benedict appeared to reach out to the anti-globalization movement on Wednesday, attacking rich countries for having "plundered and sacked" Africa and other poor regions of the world.

An extract published from his first book since being elected pope highlighted the passionately anti-materialistic and anti-capitalist aspects of his thinking.

Unexpectedly, the pope also approvingly cited Karl Marx and his analysis of contemporary man as a victim of alienation.

The pope's 400-page book, entitled Jesus of Nazareth, is to be published on April 16, his 80th birthday. On Wednesday, the newspaper Corriere della Sera, which is owned by the book's publishers, Rizzoli, presented a lengthy extract.

It included Benedict's thoughts on the parable of the Good Samaritan, who went to the aid of a traveler shunned by other passers-by after he had been stripped and beaten by robbers.

While many commentators accuse rich countries of not acting like the Samaritan, the pope goes a big step further and compares them to the thieves.

"If we apply [the story] to the dimensions of globalized society we see how the peoples of Africa, who have been plundered and sacked, see us from close-up," he wrote. "Our style of life [and] the history in which we are involved has stripped them and continues to strip them."

The pope wrote that the damage was not just material.

"We have wounded them spiritually too," he said. "Instead of giving them God -- and thereby welcoming in from their traditions all that is precious and great -- we have brought them the cynicism of a world without God in which only power and profit count."

His judgment is also bound to be seen as a condemnation of colonialism.

But it could also be read as a confession of the failures of the Roman Catholic Church's own missionary activity, which often followed in the wake of conquest and colonization.

Pope Benedict went on to say that the poor of the developing world were not the only people who could be regarded as victims in need of help from a Good Samaritan.

He said narcotics, people-trafficking and sex tourism had "stripped and tormented" many, leaving them "empty even in [a world of] material abundance"

Describing humanity's alienation, Marx had "provided a clear image of the man who has fallen victim to brigands," he wrote.

But the pope said he had failed to get to the nub of the issue "because he only developed his thoughts in the material sphere."

This story has been viewed 2271 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top