Glendon Says Church Stands Alone in Struggle Against Poverty

U.N. Rights Declaration Selectively Promoted, Contends Harvard Professor

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SYDNEY, Australia, JUNE 20, 2002 ( The Church stands alone in its efforts to highlight «the moral imperative» of addressing poverty, according to Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon.

Glendon, who has been in Australia to deliver the Caritas Helder Camara Lecture, said that affluent nations are washing their hands of poor countries and poor people, and that the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights is under attack, particularly in the areas of economic and social justice, The Catholic Weekly reported.

Some African and Asian nations claim the U.N. declaration does not reflect their values, while in the Muslim world it has been dismissed as «nothing but a Western document,» said Glendon.

«Human rights groups have continued the Cold War practice of selectively promoting the parts of the declaration they favored while ignoring others,» she said. The parts that speak to economic and social justice are being almost completely ignored, the professor contended.

«It is a moral scandal that the poorest people and countries are being increasingly marginalized in the global order just when, perhaps for the first time, we have recognized that poverty is not necessary, not fixed in the order of things,» she said.

Only the Church continues to lift up before the world the moral imperative of addressing poverty, she contended.

The Church does not treat poor people as problems to be solved, Glendon added. Rather it exhorts the world to view the disadvantaged as persons whose human potential «deserves to be realized,» she said.

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