Father Piero Gheddo is a member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and co-author of the book “David and Goliath at the G-8: Dialogue on Globalization,” which will be published by St. Paul´s.
Before the summit, Father Gheddo was critical of the 60 Catholic organizations that signed a manifesto and decided to protest peacefully against the G-8 summit.
“Genoa is a city at war, under siege,” Father Gheddo said in an interview. “The G-8 opponents are divided between the peaceful and the violent, but this is an artificial division. It is true that the great majority of the protesters are peaceful, but the ideology with which they are imbued leads almost necessarily to violence.”
The causes of the violence are, in the first place, “the ideology of ´everything now,´ which began in ´68,” he said. “For months, quite some time before the street protests, the G-8 had on its agenda the intention to discuss and decide on the way to reduce the misery of poor peoples.
“Why protest against leaders of rich countries and not [protest] against our society of waste and the superfluous, [which is] indifferent to the poor of the world? The G-8 [leaders] have been elected democratically and depend on the vote of their electors: if our ´model of life and development´ does not change, not even a leader can do very much.”
In the second place, the missionary pointed out, is “the analysis of the poverty of poor peoples, which is Marxist in origin — the world divided between exploited and exploiters.”
“Among the G-8 opponents,” he said, “at least given what I have heard these days in Genoa in several meetings with protesters, I have not found anyone who does not blindly believe in the narrow ideological scheme according to which we are rich because others are poor, and vice versa; 20% of the world´s population controls 80% of the world´s riches, and vice versa.”
He continued: “If this analysis is true, as opponents of the G-8 believe, one inevitably arrives at condemnation, the rejection of the rich world — many youths in Genoa are saying ´this world disgusts me´ — and those who are more agitated become violent.
“However, this analysis is totally mistaken. If not, why do missionaries go to Africa to educate with the Gospel? ´It is not necessary to educate,´ the G-8 opponents say, ´all cultures are equivalent and poverty stems from the rich robbing the poor.´
“Missionaries, they say, should stay here and carry out a revolution so that there will be ´a just distribution of the resources of the earth´ — another slogan that is contrary to real facts,” Father Gheddo said.
“Ethiopia is much richer than Italy in natural resources, but immensely more poor or rather, impoverished,” he noted. “How and by whom, I ask? Because of six years of Italian colonization? What great stolen riches should we return to Ethiopia? The obelisk of Aksum? The causes of poverty in the Third World are much deeper: [They are] historical, cultural and religious. The Gospel, in fact, serves to make man an agent of development.”
“Missionaries did not wait to be concerned about the poor, the G-8 and G-8 opponents,” Father Gheddo added. “However, during these days there was no talk of their successful endeavors against poverty, which include proclamation, education, sharing, and solidarity, paid with their life. The rich world can produce money and machines to send to the poor, it can produce protesters and opponents of the G-8, but every day it produces fewer men and women who are prepared to give their life for others.”