Cardinal: India’s Economic Boom Invites Simplicity

Urges Christians to “Stand Apart” and Resist Materialism

JAMSHEDPUR, India, FEB. 19, 2008 ( As India develops economically, its citizens face the temptation of putting money-making too high on the priority list, says the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

Cardinal Paul Cordes affirmed this during his five-day trip to India ending today, which coincided with the plenary assembly of the bishops’ council.

“For Christians,” charitable activity “should carry a deeper meaning as a sign not only of human compassion but also God’s goodness,” the cardinal said Monday in Jamshedpur.

Noting the history of charitable activity in India, Cardinal Cordes mentioned great figures like St. Francis Xavier and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

But he called attention to India’s recent “rapid economic boom,” saying, “So much has changed since my last visit: Gleaming business campuses, technology parks and sprawling shopping malls have sprung up at a rapid rate and in remarkable numbers.”

“India is appearing on the world stage as an economic powerhouse, a land of opportunity and achievement,” he added.

But, this is bringing about a “growing materialism,” Cardinal Cordes cautioned, and motivating the Indian people to give “a high place to making money.”

“It’s about wanting to own, to posses, to be in the newspapers, show off and be recognized,” he observed.

Pointing out the gap between rich and poor, the pontifical council president said, “Despite the boom, India is still a tale of two nations. Most citizens still live in abject poverty and the gulf between the haves and have-nots may well be growing.”

On the other hand, Cardinal Cordes stated, “In recent years, India has seen a surge in volunteerism from both within and outside the country. Corporate philanthropy, too, is growing.”

The prelate quoted Pope John Paul II, saying, “All Christians, and in a special way bishops, priests and religious, are called to stand apart, living simple yet fulfilling lives.”

As Benedict XVI pointed out in his encyclical on charity, Cardinal Cordes affirmed, the essential requirement of charity is to “be person’s moved by Christ’s love, persons whose hearts Christ has conquered with his love, awakening them with a love of neighbor.”

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