What a Pope-ular distraction from real issues

A shame champagne socialists are too preoccupied with Pope-bashing to take on big political issues

Make Poverty History.  Remember that?  It’s what caused everyone to get in a stir ten years ago, before the various climate change campaigns kicked off, especially in the run up to Copenhagen.  But now that world poverty is no longer topic du jour (so what is? I guess that would be Pope bashing then), Monday’s gathering of world leaders in NYC to discuss world poverty has received little-to-no attention in the media.

So how have the major nations performed against the poverty reduction pledges made by them at the UN Millennium Summit a decade ago?

Well, to my eyes, not too well, but not too badly either: Great Britain is teacher’s pet, most on track in its commitments to help cut world poverty in half by 2015.  G8 countries are behind by 20 billion dollars on what they promised, and that is after the kick up the backside of Blair’s Gleneagles Summit in 2005 (this is the summit that famously promised debt cancellation for the poorest countries). But the fact is, where the massive reductions to world poverty have been made, it is not because of aid from developed nations, but because of the natural rise of the developing nations like China, India and Brazil, pulling themselves out of poverty through rapid economic growth.

And it seems that three countries will increasingly be shaping the decade ahead.

So what were the big issues at the UN summit 10 years ago?

The jewel in the crown was poverty reduction, but also much talked about was the need for more UN peacekeepers, following atrocities in the Balkans and Rwanda.  Concern about nuclear proliferation with regard to the Eastern Bloc (though there was no mention of Iran at this time). No mention then of Saddam Hussein, or the threat of international terrorism (with the horrors of 9/11 still to come). Interestingly, climate change was just a footnote, with images of melting icecaps and stranded polar bears yet to be beamed around the world.

So much changes and so much doesn’t change in ten years.  The main difference is that ten years ago, the chattering classes were loving talking about world poverty and flashing their wristbands, now they would rather post facebook pictures of people wearing T-shirts that criticize religion and demonize all Catholic priests.

On which note, the vicious sneering I have heard about the Pope, and the Catholic Church, in the last week is frankly offensive – and I’m Jewish. It denigrates what victims of abuse, by those in authority over them in any way, have been through.

I don’t think any victim of child abuse is vindicated by a T-shirt I recently saw being worn by an anti-Pope protester, reading:”What would Jesus do? NOT F**** KIDS”.  To my friend who proudly posted that picture, I don’t care how vehemently atheist you are, belittling those people who have religion as “having funny ideas” is the most intolerant thing I have heard. Why not refocus your energy and online efforts at drawing people’s attention to the NYC Summit, rather than attacking soft targets like the Catholic Church and the Pope.


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