Friday, 6 April 2007

A point in the Pope's new book: Rich nations plundered the world

By Philip Pullella in Vatican City
RICH countries bent on power and profit have mercilessly "plundered and sacked" Africa and other poor regions and exported to them the "cynicism of a world without God", Pope Benedict writes in his new book.
The Pope also condemns drug trafficking and sexual tourism, saying they are signs of a world brimming with "people who are empty" yet living among abundant material goods.
One section of the book was printed in Wednesday's Corriere Della Sera daily before publication later this month by Italian publisher Rizzoli, which owns the newspaper.
A Rizzoli spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the excerpts.
In the 400-page book, called Jesus of Nazareth, the Pope offers a modern application of Jesus's parable of the Good Samaritan, who stopped to help a man who had been robbed by thieves when others, including a priest, had not.
"The current relevance of the parable is obvious," the Pope writes.
"If we apply it to the dimensions of globalised society today, we see how the populations of Africa have been plundered and sacked and this concerns us intimately," the Pope says in his book, which comes out on April 16, his 80th birthday.
He drew a link between the lifestyle of people in the developed world and the dire conditions of people in Africa.
"We see how our lifestyle, the history that involved us, has stripped them naked and continues to strip them naked," he writes.
The German Pope, who has condemned the effects of colonialism before, said rich countries had also hurt poor countries spiritually by belittling or trying to wipe out their own cultural and spiritual traditions.
"Instead of giving them God, the God close to us in Christ, and welcoming in their traditions all that is precious and great ... we have brought them the cynicism of a world without God, where only power and profit count...," he writes.
The Pope says his comments were valid for other regions apart from Africa.
In what could be seen as a strong self-criticism of the Roman Catholic Church, whose missionary activities often went hand-in-glove with colonialism, the Pope writes:
"We destroyed (their) moral criteria to the point that corruption and a lust for power devoid of scruples have become obvious."