Published on Tuesday, February 17,
2004 by the BBCPublished on
World's Worst Threat'
by Alex Kirby
The leader of Catholics in England and Wales,
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, says the biggest
challenge confronting the world is not terrorism
He told a conference called by the UK Treasury
that poverty was humanity's "greatest
scandal and scourge" today.
The cardinal said the world risked getting its
definitions and priorities wrong by concentrating
Failed states, he said, were those that could
not lift people out of poverty, or share wealth
so all could flourish.
The UK Chancellor Gordon Brown earlier told the
conference, Making Globalization Work For All,
that the developed world was failing in its
promises to reduce global poverty and sickness.
Recognizing the peril
He called on governments to give an extra £50bn
($94bn;74bn euros) in aid per year, and said
countries must open their markets to competition
more quickly, cut protectionism and write off
larger amounts of Third World debt.
The presidents of Brazil and the World Bank and
the singer Bono backed his stance.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, the archbishop of Westminster,
said he did not want to belittle "the
terrible scourge of terrorism, or the truth
that it is more dangerous today than it has
He continued: "There is increasing talk
of so-called 'failed states' - states within
which the kinds of controls and regulations
which allow for an orderly and secure environment
are not present.
"We point the finger at such states because
we fear that it is there that terrorism is
allowed to flourish.
"This worries me somewhat, not because it
is not true, but because we may be at risk
of getting our definitions and our priorities
"States fail when they are incapable of
lifting people out of poverty, or when they
pay insufficient heed to the importance of
ensuring that wealth is adequately distributed
so that the whole of the population can flourish.
"Indeed, they fail when they do not take
seriously the obligation to ensure that wealth
is not created for the few and at the expense
of the many.
"The greatest scandal and scourge of humankind
is, in fact, dire poverty and the misery and
exploitation that accompanies and exacerbates
it. That is the real scandal... there is a
genuine recognition that this is the big issue
for our times."
The cardinal said the world faced a huge task
if it was going to achieve the United Nations
Millennium Development Goals, which set targets
for realizing a better world in several areas
including hunger, peace and health, many by
The World Economic Forum said a month ago that
developed countries were doing scarcely a third
of what was needed to achieve the goals.
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