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Cardinal Turkson on hunger, persecution, condoms, and GMOs

Catholic World News - January 05, 2011

In an interview with the Vatican newspaper, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, lamented indifference to violence against Christians and to the world’s one billion people who suffer from hunger.

The Ghana-born cardinal revealed that after his October 2009 appointment to the pontifical council, he went “straight to the source” so that he could better understand Pope Benedict’s thinking on social issues. During his long meeting with the Pontiff, he learned the importance of distinguishing “the pastoral from the political. We are pastors, and we do not do politics.”

During the interview, Cardinal Turkson said that

  • just as Egyptian authorities have taken effective measures to prevent attacks on tourists, they must take measures to protect the nation’s Christians, lest Christians become “citizens without citizenship”
  • recent attacks on Christians should not be seen merely as isolated incidents of terrorism, but as part of a growing hostility towards religious freedom
  • Pope Benedict’s 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate is the “handbook for justice and peace in the world” and has been misinterpreted by some Catholics in the United States, who have confused the Pontiff’s use of the word “social” with socialism and “gift” with welfare programs
  • the world’s one billion hungry people could easily be fed with the food thrown away in affluent nations and with the excess food destroyed “in the name of the iron laws of the market”: “I have personally witnessed the slaughter of cattle to keep up the price of meat”
  • Africa’s ability to grow its own food has been terribly compromised by the environmental devastation wrought by multinational corporations
  • while the Church has taken no position on the morality of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), there would be no need for African farmers to purchase genetically modified seeds were it not for this environmental degradation; these genetically modified seeds constitute a new form of African economic dependence, “a new form of slavery”
  • solidarity demands the wider distribution of anti-retroviral drugs to African AIDS victims; instead, “we always talk about condoms”
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