Global Perspective

July 27, 2005 Vol. 3, No. 13

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Greg Lopez
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

Read more letters to the pope
  • Jesuit Fr. Francis Gonsalves from Chennai, India: Wilkommen, Welcome, Swagatham!.
  • Joseph Adero Ngala from Nairobi, Kenya: Africa knows the church's good works, not its doctrine.
  • Geraldine Hawkes from Adelaide, Australia: In the right hands, a garden can flourish.
  • Janina Gomes from Mumbai, India: Churchgoers must confront some tough questions.
  • Michael Gillgannon from La Paz, Bolivia: We can, must learn from our errors.
  • Antonio D. Sison from the Philippines: The musings of a Filipino Catholic.
  • Dominic Emmanuel from New Delhi: Building bridges to other religions doesn't compromise Catholic identity.
  • Virginia Saldanha from Mumbai, India: Asian women request a true dialogue.
  • Greg Lopez from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: How much is too much?.
  • (Editor's Note: Global Perspective is featuring Catholics from across the globe writing open letters to the new pope, Benedict XVI. Today, Greg Lopez writes from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.)

    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."

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    Malaysia is a land of milk and honey (You should come visit us). It is peaceful yet surrounded by violence in southern Thailand, Mindanao, Myanmar and different parts of Indonesia, which is at war with itself, particularly in Aceh, Maluku and West Papua. This blessed country has even bee spared the disasters that have occurred around it, such as the tsunami, avian flu and SARS.

    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.

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    The points I would like to ask you, your grace is why is the Catholic church so rigid when it comes to morality but does not seem to have that same passion when it comes to demanding that is believers share and sacrifice their material wealth for the common good? Why do you allow millions of rich Catholics not to worry about our neighbors?

    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?

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    Yes, the decision is ours but the contrast I see on how you address issues relating to morality as the issue wealth distribution worries me. The same rigor must be applied to all church teachings.

    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.

    Warm wishes,
    Greg Lopez

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