Is the Church in Ireland silent on the extreme inequality in our land?
An extreme example of inequality has been in the media in the past few days of March. A conference on fuel poverty in Dublin on 11 and 12 March 2013 heard that fuel poverty was the cause of the deaths of about 1,200 more people in Ireland last winter. The previous day, the Sunday Independent reported that the 300 wealthiest Irish people saw their wealth grow almost 6.3% (3.9bn) last year, to a net worth of more than €66 bn.
Where is the outrage at this extreme inequality?
The Constitution of the ACP includes the following:
‘Giving an opportunity for Irish priests to engage pro-actively with the crucial debates taking place in Irish society’
‘recognition that Church and State are separate and that while the Church must preach the message of the Gospel and try to live it authentically, the State has the task of enacting laws for all its citizens‘.
A crucial debate for Irish society is the question of social justice in the current economic situation. The voices of those in authority in the Church seem to be almost invisible. Some of this may be because the media choose to focus on other church matters; some may be because there is little to report.
On 21 January, Cardinal Brady and other representatives of the Catholic church met the Taoiseach and other members of the government. The report of the meeting on the website of the Catholic bishops (http://www.catholicbishops.ie/2013/01/21/cardinal-brady-leads-delegation-church-state-structured-dialogue-meeting-taoiseach-enda-kenny-ministers/) just mentions, among other items, that there was discussion of “the national economy” and “justice and peace issues specifically on poverty and social need”. In December 2011 the bishops issued a document about the budget. I can find nothing on their website on the topic in 2012.
SocialJustice Ireland (www.socialjustice.ie) seem to be a lone voice in the matter, with consistent skilled and detailed analysis, and yet nobody in authority seems to pay any practical heed to what they say.
It is not that wealth itself is sinful, but this inequality cannot be just or Christian.
The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said in London on 11 March: “Too often, where trust and indeed truth is missing, decisions are not the way they should be”. In my view, Ireland, and the EU, have not been fully truthful about the management of the economic situation; and our goverment, however successful IMF Chief Christine Lagarde considers them, have acted in a way which aggravates inequality and injustice.
I know little about economics; I can only observe what happens and read what others write. Is there a way that some ACP members can undertake a public profile on this unChristian situation? I have written to all our TDs and Senators about the matter in recent months. The silence is deafening. Perhaps what I say is not the truth? Or perhaps we need to find another way to shock those in authority in State and Church?
Do you know what we in the ACP could do? Can we support and reinforce the work of SocialJustice Ireland?
Pádraig McCarthy, Dublin.