On October 5, 2001, Most Rev. Vincent Michael Concessao, Archbishop of Delhi, India, gave the following speech at the general Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, in the Vatican (taken from the Oct. 31, 2001 issue of the Vatican weekly, L'Osservatore Romano):
A few days ago, we were all stunned when we saw on the television the destruction of the World Trade Center, and heard about the death of over dox-thousand innocent people. In some countries of the world today, it is a daily affair, and often a sign of despair stemming from helplessness.
There is another kind of subtle, hidden, little spoken of terrorism. I mean the terrorism of an unjust economic system which grinds to death thousands of people every day. According to a study on international debt published two years ago, eleven million children under the age of five die every year the world over mainly for lack of food and health care against preventable diseases.
With the present trend of globalization, the situation of the poor is getting worse. Small industries are closed down, depriving thousands of people of gainful employment; the state-spending on the basic requirements of the poor is reduced as part of the structural adjustment programme; the poor are getting further marginalized and driven to despair. They become easy victims to politicians and fundamentalists. Do we have a message of hope for them, not just in words but in concrete action programs?
The statistical situation of poverty in the third millennium is frightening. While nearly one billion of the people of the world are illiterate... nearly 1.3 billion people lack safe potable water, and about half of the world's population is without access to adequate sanitation.
There is a frightening sentence in the Second Vatican Council (Gaudium et spes) from the Decree of Gatian: Feed the man dying of hunger, because if you are not feeding him, you are killing him. It is a case of murder by omission.
There is enough in the world today for all that people need, but not enough for their greed (Mahatma Gandhi). Should we not take a clear stand with and for the poor, and against the system in which they do not count? It will be part of our commitment to a culture of life and a civilization of love.
In the first week of January, 2002, a meeting took place in Delhi, India, organized by the Justice, Peace and Development Commission of the Indian Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was reported by Vatican Radio on January 9. In his speech, the Archbishop of Delhi, Most Rev. Vincent Concessao, developed on the subject he had mentioned at the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican last October (see page 5), defining social injustice as the worst form of terrorism. He stressed the fact that the terrorist attacks of September 11 made much ado in the world, but that one continued to keep silent on another type of terrorism that makes, every day, thousands of victims, and which does not seem worth the attention of governments. Archbishop Concessao referred to the economic and financial mechanisms that rule the globe and which, according to statistics, are more deadly than terrorism in its common interpretation. “We live in a state of scandalous social injustice,” he said, “and the tendency goes towards an aggravation of the situation. The Church must therefore fight for social justice, without which peace and harmony cannot exist.”
Most Rev. Vincent Michael Concessao