|July 27, 2005||Vol. 3, No. 13|
Greg Lopez, a researcher and consultant, is a member of Cardijn Lay Community, working with youths and young workers on development issues.
Open Letters to the New Pope:
How much is too much?
By Greg Lopez
Dear Pope Benedict,
Malaysia is a country of 25 million people with 3 million of them being migrants. Generally an affluent, multi-religious, multi-racial country, Malaysia is indeed blessed and so are many of its inhabitants. But there is emptiness in me and I believe in this country.
There is poverty all around me -- in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar in fact the whole of Southeast Asia. Brunei and Singapore are anomalies to Southeast Asia. So are the so-called New Tigers, Malaysia and Thailand. Malaysia has become a center for the trafficking of drugs, women and children. Rich Malaysians procure and encourage the illicit use of drugs as well as become part of networks that procure and traffic women and children.
Interestingly Catholics in Malaysia so not seem to worry. We live in bliss worrying about the "more important things."
How ironic then, that this country blessed with so many good things seem to not do enough for its neighbors. It's really amazing this modern world, you grace - many Malaysian live in ostensible luxury and security with poverty and violence hovering just beyond our doorsteps.
I wonder as a Catholic, if I have done enough -- obviously not.
What do you have to say about wealth, your grace: How much is too much? Is it immoral for Catholics to be very rich when poverty abounds? What is worse, your grace, a rich Catholic who follows the laws of the church or a poor Catholic, who is poor because of the social conditions imposed on him/her, who is morally suspect? Are there different standards for these sins?
The late Pope John Paul II went to great lengths to promote the importance of morality. However, when it comes to the issue of the forgiveness of debt, sharing of wealth, there seem to be no clear consensus.
If there is one thing that I ask of you is that you address this issue of unequal distribution of wealth.
© 2005 The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company, 115
E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111
TEL: 1-816-531-0538 FAX: 1-816-968-2280