(+) A Close Examination of Some Anti-Government Blog Postings

Sometimes it is necessary to expose the unreasoned bias, viciousness, inaccuracies and deliberate misrepresentations published in the anti-government blogs, most of which not not allow comments on their blogs from anyone critical of their postings, and whose answers to their detractors attack the critic and not the argument. Thus, to many of these bloggers, I am a "coup apologist" who writes  "bullshit."

Today I look at three examples (and the dissemination of one by RadioNZ International). Tomorrow, or the next day, I'll examine their mischevious postings on former Judge Nazhaat Shameem, the publisher of the Fiji Times, and the Crimes Decree.

Fiji Democracy Now
Fiji Democracy Now has a feature "Father Barr makes more empty promises to the poor" in which it makes several claims:

Claim One. "Fiji’s most disgraceful hypocrite, Father Kevin Barr, has promised he’ll soon award wage increases to the low paid workers of Fiji." 
Fact. Fr Barr has promised nothing on what he will do. He speaks as the chairperson of the Wages Council. For those who do not know of Fr Barr, he has championed -- and sought to empower -- Fiji's underprivileged for over two decades, and for this work he is widely respected in Fiji and overseas.
Claim Two. "Poverty has exploded under the illegal regime which he supports, so his conscience must be pricking him." 
Fact. Poverty has increased, but poverty is not of this government's making. In the 1990s some 25 percent of Fiji's population were below the "poverty line." Today's situation is exacerbated by the the world recession and the isolationist policies of Fiji's neighbours. Its economic options are limited but it has sought to assist the poor in several ways, including the  removal of VAT on basic food items, and not increasing VAT as the Qarase government intended to do. The infrastructual actions in Government's Roadmap should help reduce rural poverty, and measures taken should see a sharp reduction in overall poverty in the middle- to long-term.
Claim Three. "What this foolish priest doesn’t seem to understand is that a wage increase across the board which he’s promising will simply lead to more devaluation which will further push up the price of imported food." 
Fact. The wage increases are not "across the board." They are industry-specific and concern minimum wages only. They are also being  introduced progressively to assist employers. The ultimate aim is to increase the minimum wage to the "poverty line" that currently stands at $175 a week. Some 60 percent of workers now earn less than this.
The wage increases could lead to inflation (not devaluation!) but the poor spend all their money in the local economy which should prove a stimulus in some areas. Meanwhile, government's Roadmap includes measures to increase local food production and reduce dependence on imported food.
Does FDN think there should be no minimum wage and no wage increases, even when 60 percent of Fiji's population is living below the poverty line?
Claim Four. "This self-appointed expert of electoral systems knows nothing about economics." 
Fact. Fr Barr has never made any claim to expertise on electoral systems -- but he does have a Masters degree in Economics!

Sai Lealea's blog FijiCoup2006 reports that a "drunk military goon squad" arrested a number of people, including two former MPs, who were drinking grog (yaqona/kava) at the SDL Party office last Friday night. They were allegedly taken to QEB, insulted, demeaned and eventually released.

The incident, censored by media watchdogs, although not particularly important in itself, does no credit to the RFMF, the Military Council or Government, who need to show that the RFMF is a "disciplined force" not a capricious rabble.

But why do the blogs only publish negative news?  In "Write your letters to the Editor here" I have invited Sai to respond properly to another reader who did not agree with his comments, and to reply to my invitation to show a "way forward."

Fiji News Uncensored
Another anti-government blog, FijiNewsUncensored, citing "very reliable source within the Fiji's Prime Ministers office,"  claims that Bainimarama was so fazed that the army intelligence did not pick up the planning of the "600,000 petition" (mostly organized from overseas) that he is "overcome by fear knowing that his end is near... The madman is breaking loose once more. We will continue to keep you up to date as our people on the ground are completely on red alert. Fiji is in a very dangerous situation right now."
The reality, as explained in earlier postings, is that this totally unreliable petition was a fiction of the political parties deposed by the 2006 Coup and was certainly not signed by a fraction of the 680,000 claimed. Bainimarama saw it for what it was immediately. As for the "red alert," I suspect this is the latest in a sequence of  threats, none of which eventuated, intended to destabilise government and keep its opponents happy. 

RadioNZ International
I see from FijiDemocracyNow that  RadioNZ International is still giving credit to the petition by citing its organizer.  No mention is made of this blog that exposed the petition (see link above)  for what it was. In the interests of informed and unbiased journalism RadioNZI should always cite sources. This it seldom does, leaving this writer to believe it is often "fed" news items by anti-government people and organizations. If it carries on  like this, there'll soon be a case to take to the NZ Broadcasting Standards Authority.

P.S. I should have added two other blogs, one that inferred Bainimarama's visit to Ra province was somehow connected with the increase of typhoid; the other claiming that the Muslims had taken over government.  What caused the Muslim accusation? President Epeli speaking on the Prophet's birthday. Earlier, it was the Catholics and the Hindus.

Cartoon: Pacific Media Centre/Cafe Pacific


Anonymous said…

Sai's story is the truth as told by those present. Credit to you though for attempting to be neutral but I'm sorry your bias and pro-regime slant is still very clear. Why don't you just come out and admit your support for a regime that is frightened of its shadows it is issuing decrees left right and centre!

Your support for an illegal regime is blatant and no amount of sugar coating your postings will hide that.

At least the likes of Sai and others have the courage to stake their position clear against the illegal regime while also working to develop ideas to restore democracy. You don't have to be a regime apologist to have a stake in Fiji's future, especially if Fiji will always be home.
Proud Fijian said…
I have stopped reading Anti-Government blogs after making out what they really are!

As an example - RawFijiNews.

One blog last year was "Fijians Are The Real Lamu Sona". The blogs was about how Fijians wouldn't stand up against Bainimarama (and the message I read was inciting a revolt) I tried to post a reply to the post but it never got published.

From than on I have a list of blogs that I would not visit. Pretty much those you have listed Croz.
Ratu Sai said…
Fr Kevin has also authored many articles and booklets or books, he also has a Doctor of Philosophy.

I wold urge those that take it upon themselves to traduce this man please think again.
Croz Walsh said…
Anonymous, I'll leave your criticism of me there for a while hoping you will repost with a pseudonym. Please read the conditions about leaving a comment.

I make no claim to be neutral and never have. I support what Bainimarama says he is trying to achieve but am not always happy with the methods. My claim has always been for balance,that sometimes sees me swinging one way and then the other. Read the description under my blog title. And note that I use + - and o to indicate political leanings.

Please inform me on what Sai is doing to take Fiji forward, or what like-minded people in Fiji are doing. Note: the key word is "forward."
Habakuk said…
Croz, Your pro-regime stance will be reviewed in time to come. As I have said I support the reforms and the road map.

I asked for your comments in regard to the IMF 1 billion dollar loan and the silence is deafening. These things are generally debated in a bi-cameral parliamentary setting in democracies. This one is void of such "checks and balances".

Even the most liberal and supportive "observer" has to concede when democracy works. You have thown your hat in the ring. I sincerely hope you do not regret this passive support you have given to a regime, that is, lets face it, illegal.

The time frames are too long. 2014 is too far away, surely you must concede that. It is generally in haste (with the best intentions) that major blunders are made.

PLEASE, take a neutral position. I know you have the best intentions. I know you love Fiji. BUT ask yourself this question:

What is the road to HELL paved with?

The supression of free speech. The fast-tracking of policy and major descisions. Even you must concede that it is time for those of us "outside of the circle" to step back.

As one of your previous bloggers has stated from the book of Proverbs:

Even a fool seems wise when he keeps his mouth shut.

PS That applies to Qanibulu as well. The way he talks has us all thinking that he/she has a PhD in Political Science, Economics, Sociology, Anthropolgy, Law, History and philosophy of Science, Philosphy, Environmental Science etc etc...


EVERYONE has an agenda.
Storm before the calm said…
Croz, it's obvious from recent postings that the anti-regime forces are embarked on a fresh campaign after a long period of relative silence. It's taken them an age to recover from the horrendous prospect of having lost not just the battle but the war. Now that Australia and NZ are accepting the reality in Fiji, it's all over for them and their ilk. These latest attacks are the last gasp of a discredited rabble who can't quite grasp the fact that the indignant hysteria of a few short months ago has all but evaporated. I'm not surprised at their attack on Kevin Barr. But how ironic that those religious bigots hiding behind the skirts of the Methodist Church should choose to attack a priest? They have no shame and, equally, no future. Ignore them.
In praise of Croz said…
Croz, this posting is ample testament to your long career in academia and your skills of research and analysis. And only you would have had the patience to trawl through this stream of vomir, as the French call it. You've also shown, once again, an exceptional degree of tolerance towards your political opponents. Truly a scholar and a gentleman.
Anonymous said…
Croz, the anti IGs are the least of yr worries, your site is doing great! these people do not have the depth to see Fiji situation in totality!! only see things when it suits them!!! too bad, VB is at the helm! and we are moving on with or without them!

Phantom said…
The fortitude, restraint, perseverance and consistency you have continued to show should shame many a scribe. I have always considered you a firm, noble and caring person. This comes through in this website for the discerning and REALLY concerned. Fiji has to move forward and any input that will help in the path it charts should be seen positively by those who REALLY care. Your contributions will be there for posterity to judge.
Disgusted said…
Gosh, who'll they acuse next of taking over the country? Jews?

Using this to sling mud at other religions shows the ulterior motives of some of these blogs!
Son of Fiji said…
@Habakuk - since you're searching for a response, I guess I'll throw my 2 cents in.

A loan, of any size, only becomes a problem if it is spent on the wrong thing.

Take the western world for instance... the US, and the UK have taken on massive debt levels to give money to private banking institutions in the hope that they would lend that money out to businesses to get their economies rolling. That the public in these democratic countries allowed this to happen speaks volumes on the uselessness of democracy, and the power of corruption.

In Australia, the nations surplus was pissed up against the wall, so that everyone got free money to go spend in the economy - unfortunately for them, many took holiday's off-shore / paid off old debts / spent money on luxury goods which were mostly imported anyway.

What Fiji is trying to do with the loan, is infrastructure upgrading. This is a world of difference. Here's why.... For one, because it is not a grant from China, or some other friendly donor country, Fiji is not beholden to using that country's contractors or equipment, or whatever. What that translates into is a higher retention of funds within Fiji through more local employment via the actual contractors, local suppliers, etc.
In China, they essentially did the same thing when the GFC hit- they built new roads, new bridges, new cities - or tore the old "new" ones down, and built new "new" ones. This provided more employment, and had a greater impact on the economy than the US method. Of course, now China has a problem of excess capacity - but that's not a problem we have in Fiji. We don't have the proper infrastructure, and so building new ones won't produce excess capacity, but instead provide conduits for the demand that is already there.

So, I'm not too concerned about the size of the loan - as long as it is put to good use, we'll be ok. Liken it to the early years of Fiji's independence... the roads, and monasavu cost us money... but the production boost we got from it, allowed us to meet our debt repayments easily.

As long as the loan doesn't go to pay hikes, or suva foreshore developments, or even hotel developments, than we have nothing to fear. The money should definitely go toward roads, water, and renewable energy - not cassava - but hydro / solar/ wind.. the "free" type.

That is all..

God Bless Fiji.
Qanibulu said…
@ Habakuk ..

The system of "checks and balances" works in a true democracy, if there exists such an animal. In Fiji's case, it was as rare as unicorn droppings under the SDL government.

For the last 50 years Fiji has contended with a sick bastardised version of democracy that has stunted its development both economically and socially. Our neighbours Australia and NZ, the bastions of democracy in the region should hang their heads in shame, for not being more actively involved in the development of Fiji's infant democracy since the disastrous 1987 coup.

The book of Habakuk asks the question of God why he has brought about pain and suffering to his chosen people at the hands of the Babylonians. God replied those with faith will survive, out of the cauldron of pain and suffering will emerge a stronger, unified more resilient people.

Over the last 10 years there has been chaos, uncertainty, suffering and pain. There has been a lot of soul searching. The democratic model that will be embraced in 2014 will have more meaning and substance than anything that has preceded it in Fiji's history.

Fiji's isolation at the hands of NZ and Australia over the last few years has in a lot of ways galvanised its people. It is no longer a nation dependant on handouts, bribery and corruption.
Kiwi injustice said…
Croz, the following piece from today's Fiji Sun shows that NZ is still punishing the innocent despite expressing a desire for rapprochement with Fiji. How your country can do this to the children of military personnel, irrespective of rank and influence, is appalling. What power do they have over the regime? It's also a blow to artistic freedom, leaving a celebrated troupe short of personnel and NZ audiences deprived of the full impact of normal performances. Disgraceful.


Two Fiji performers to the Pasifika Festival in Auckland have been denied visas by the New Zealand Government.
The two performers, Patricia Naisara and Samu Cama, were rejected because their fathers are in the Fiji Military Forces.

That means the Vou Dance group will only have nine members instead of the regular 11 to perform on the closing day on March 13.

The festival starts on March 6 and is an annual celebration of Pacific peoples in New Zealand. The Vou Dance group will be the only Fiji representatives there.

The group consists of composer and choreographer, Sachiko Miller, Susana Digitaki, Adi Losalini Foi, Edward Soro, Tevita Soro, John Peckham, Wayne Mataika, Joseph Whippy, and Ratu Rabici Tabakaucoro.

“We are sad about this as we are all close,” Ms Miller said yesterday after hearing about the rejection of visas for the two group members.

“It is sad to leave them behind as they are amazing performers,” Ms Miller said.

All performers in the group are from Fiji; with some who are professional musicians and dancers while others are either studying or working. “We will be conducting dance workshops at the University of Auckland,” Ms Miller said.

“We will be undertaking a collaboration with Australian-based Papua New Ginean contemporary dance group Sunameke that performed in the Miss South Pacific Pagent and will perform together at the Pasifika Festival.”

The Vou dance group raised $10,000 to pay for their way to New Zealand.
Habakuk said…
Thank you to "Son of Fiji" for your response. I tend to agree with you, that it all comes down to how the money is spent.

I also concede that sometimes you must go into debt to move forward. I also agree that "true" democracy has never existed in Fiji.

As you say if the money is spent wisely and assists in the boosting of production and standards of living/ education then it will be money well spent.

Thanks to Qanibulu as well. I agree with your sentiments in regards to debauched democracy. But it is still the best of all flawed systems.

I hope that the readers want democracy restored in time to come. We see in Aus that politicians do not think too far ahead and they always do things that are popular just before elections. The long range vision suffers in any democracy.

I truly hope the Commander stays true. I have always says that the best system of governance id a benevolent dictatorship, as things get done promptly and accountability is not diluted over a caucus or party.

Lets hope that if Fiji takes this loan that she will be able to service it. The IMF and World Bank are demanding task masters.

And Qanibulu, you did well not to take my bait. We cannot be experts on all thing.

The proverbs say "in a mutitude of consellors there is safety". I hope those analysing the proposed loan and proposed projects have the wisdom to provide wise counsel.

Croz, no need to repond on the loan issue. I think S of F and Q have responed adequately to my concerns. However, the taking on of a massive debt will always be a concern for me. I don't want to see Fiji dictated to by the "lenders" like Australia has been.

I will continue to watch the skies.
TheMax said…
I can spell out in greater detail why New Zealand and Australia are both trying to re-establish some sort of diplomatic ambassadorship with Fiji.

The real reason behind these moves are to ensure that the implementation of PACER Plus does not encounter some sort of legal wrangle later on once it is implemented considering that Fiji is banned from the Pacific Island Forum and is not included in any meetings or trade negotiations. So all these diplomatic maneuverings are being done to hijack Fiji into legitimatizing PACER Plus because there is a plan at the end of these moves which may hoodwink Fiji if the current leadership is not careful. Nothing else can be further from the truth.

Some years back, Australia and New Zealand set forth a plan to subjugate Pacific nation economies. They created PACER Plus and used diplomatic maneuvering to mask the real agenda behind this trade agreement. For example, they used the same name PACER and then add Plus to hoodwink Pacific leaders into thinking that this is the same document as PACER. Yet, when questions about PACER Plus started coming up, Australia and New Zealand quickly said that this is a different document than PACER.

Look closely. Fiji people remain banned to go to New Zealand and Australia. Important Fiji government officials such as Permanent Secretaries, Ministers, Board Members, representatives to UN bodies and elsewhere are either banned from travelling to ANZ, demonized by Australia and New Zealand agents working in tandem with their local counterparts that eventually denied them positions to go and fill locally and overseas. That about sums up all these deceptive diplomatic trickery.

Take another good look at major Australian and New Zealand media organizations colluding with their own government agents slanting their reporting to demonize Fiji as a whole. Negative news get magnified and recycled to such an extent that it affects tourists intending to travel our shores, affect our ability to market ourselves, etc.

I'm sure the Hong Kong 7s will be used to try another angle to hoodwink Rt Inoke Kubuabola or the Fiji government. Knowing how much Fiji love 7s rugby and also winning in Hong Kong, this event was selected to be the venue to continue these diplomatic meetings. If Fiji do really wins, in the height of celebration and merrymaking, who knows a political trick/bait might be thrown in that completely enslave Fiji to an agreement that in the end does not benefit the country but New Zealand and Australia's hegemony over Fiji and the Pacific.

I urge the Fiji Military Council to pay close attention to what's going on in these diplomatic meetings. These very meetings can be used to hatch plans to destabilise the current leadership knowing full well that Rt Inoke Kubuabola was intricately involved and privy to inside information of all previous coups. He still has it in him to do it all over again because he is the only one out of all the thieves, murderers and saboteurs who hasn’t met his fate. He hasn’t felt the brunt of the treatment others have felt and he may just be the conduit the saboteurs are waiting for to use against Bainimarama and his Military Council. While Rt Inoke may have repented his sins, he is still the snake in the pit as far as I am concerned.
Maximum paranoia said…
Whoa, TheMax, ain't you been seeing too many conspiracy movies lately? Yes, Pacer Plus won't work without Fiji. But it's just one reason for the backdown by the Oz and Kiwi governments. The main reason is the erosion of their influence in a strategic sense and the dismay their American allies were starting to feel about having left Fiji in the hands of two dopey deputies who couldn't manage the situation. The US is increasingly alarmed by Chinese belligerence, even if the Aussies in particular have convinced themselves that China's regional influence is benign. But the biggest factor of all was the abject failure of their sanctions to affect any change at all on the ground in Fiji. Frank's action in kicking out the Oz and NZ diplomats seemed mad at the time. But it turns out to have been extremely crafty in raising the temperature so they everyone got alarmed that events were hurtling out of control. And control is the only thing Canberra and Wellington really care about. They succumbed to the old Lyndon Johnson doctrine; that it's better to be inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in. As for Inoke Kubuabola. Yes, he's had more lives than an alley cat. But he doesn't fart without Frank's permission and knows that he can be crushed in an instant if he falls out of favour. So he'd be demented to do anything whatsoever to jeopardise his position. After all, that guy is the great survivor if ever there was one. I wouldn't trust him either. But the greatest incentive for him to play a straight bat is pure self interest and self preservation. Everything I hear about him indicates that he spends his whole time second guessing Frank. Certainly Frank himself believes Kubuabola's Damascene conversion to multiracialism is genuine. Otherwise he'd be out in the cold with all the other SVT/SDL has beens.
power plays said…
TheMax, I think it's worth contrasting the relative fates of Kubuabola and Berenado Vunibobo. Kubuabola enjoys Frank's confidence and he's been impressed by the way he's turned the Oz/ NZ situation around. Vunibobo, by comparison, is in the dog house big time for sending conflicting signals about his loyalty to Frank's agenda. He's been pulled back from New York with his tail between his legs and is none too happy, as a 24 carat racist, to have been replaced by a white man in Peter Thomson. Vunibobo was plain stupid. He got too big for his boots and in cutting him down to size, Frank has sent a powerful message to the governing classes. Cross me and you can go back to the koro.
Fiji Democracy Now said…
In the faint hope that you give a right of reply, we would like to say the following in response to your outraged defence of Father Kevin Barr.

You may not think a priest who condones the overthrow of legal governments and constitutions or the beating and intimidation of political dissidents is a hypocrite, but we do.

We did not say that the illegal regime created poverty in Fiji but it's lawless actions and incompetence have seen an explosion of poverty. People who didn't live in poverty before the coup now do and their numbers will expand the longer this regime maintains it grip on power and subverts the rule of law. The increase in poverty was confirmed by prof Wadan Narsey before the complete abolition of free speech last year put an end to the possibility that facts could be aired publicly.

No-one doubts that the 'across the board increases' apply only to some workers. The illegal government cannot increase the price the FSC receives for sugar and the 200,000 people who rely on sugar will not benefit from an increase in the pay of mill workers. Just the opposite - farmers and cane cutters will have to receive less in order to pay for a minimum wage increase granted by Father Barr. In tourism, operators will employ less staff because they're already discounting heavily just to stay open. It's Father Barr who needs to understand that he can only increase the nominal pay of some workers and this will often be at the expense of others.

If Father Barr is an economist we'd like to see him explain how it is that we have so much inflation when the world is going through a huge deflationary phase.
Ratu Sai said…

All that you say is mere supposition up until such time you and dullards can corroborate your fallacious lies its best to remain as you were moribund.
Desperate and unconscionable said…
Fiji Democracy Now, no-one has done more for social justice and the poor in Fiji than Father Barr. So your attack on him is despicable and a clear sign of your own moral bankruptcy. How dare you blame poverty in Fiji on this government when it's been a feature of the national landscape all our lives. I remember squatter settlements in the 1960s when the British ran the place. I know you guys are desperate because you're losing this struggle. But to turn on a kindly, well intentioned man like Father Barr, as you have, is a disgrace. You don't like him because he's had the temerity to explain the positive aspects of the regime's agenda. But do you think that matters a damn to the poor bastards who look to this guy for help on a daily basis? Why not pick on someone of your own low ethical status rather than someone trying to do good. The day when people like him give up trying to help is the day when Fiji is finished. We need to support such people, not discourage them with political slings and arrows. Go pick on someone else.
Lamu sona sara ga said…
Men, FDN, you have no shame. I don't care if you attack Frank and his gang. But don't attack people trying to do good in our beloved country. There are so few of them it's really depressing.

This was really lamu sona. All over Fiji tonight, there are people suffering. Who cares about politics when you're homeless and hungry? Father Barr is doing what he can. What did Qarase do for them? Nothing.
Sundarsan Kant said…
It is unfortunate that some of your correspondents have misinterpreted the work done by Father Barr as Chair of the Wages Council in purely partisan terms. These are difficult times and the impulse to assign blame or ascertain ulterior motives is indeed tempting, and easy, but it is a luxury we can ill afford. The decent and hardworking people of Fiji have endured for year’s systemic income inequalities, economic dislocations and exploitive working conditions. Besides the Civil Service and the professional ranks, the vast majority of workers merely eke out an existence. The business elite not only vociferously opposed a wages floor for decades, but also the creation of a humane social safety net for the many that fall through the cracks. Which brings us to the case of Father Barr, Is it possible (contrary to some very public insinuations) that Father Barr has out of goodwill and charity stepped up to be an advocate for the poor and disenfranchised? Is it also possible that Father Barr’s decision to become chair of the Wages Council is in concord with a profound understanding of social justice as articulated by the Catholic Church and not out of political expediency?

My concern is not on the merits of the Wages Council or its policy deliberations, but only to suggest theologically why it is not unreasonable for Father Barr to advocate for a just social order on behalf of the poor and the marginalized. My concern is not on the merits of the charter, I leave that for the relevant authorities to sort out, what I do hope to achieve is to shed some theological reasoning on why it is not unreasonable for the Archbishop to take on a public, and as some would argue a highly political role as co-chair. On the contrary, when I survey some fundamental documents regulating social justice from a Catholic perspective, I find that the Archbishops action is completely consistent and reasonable. Good people may disagree, but I argue they may do so on procedural grounds, not necessarily on substantive ones.The theological formulations that define, exposit and circumscribe the relationship of the Church in the world is complex and bewildering, yet a cursory survey of some fundamental documents regulating social justice from a Catholic perspective would find Father Barr’s action consistent and reasonable. Good people may disagree, but I posit that they may do so on procedural grounds and not necessarily on substantive ones. I will adumbrate, albeit cursorily some Papal Encyclicals illuminating the intrinsic role of the Church in society and propose that Father Barr’s service to the poor and disenfranchised can only be understood within this context.
continued ...
Sundarsan Kant said…
Fr Barr continued ...

The Church wrote Pope John Paul II in Redemptor Hominis (1979) must from an incarnational understanding act as a defender of human dignity, through all stages of human existence. In surveying the wreckage of the past century, Pope John Paul II, called the Church to be vigilant against the systemic and brutal assaults on the human person in all its guises and forms. In Laborem Exercens (1981), the Holy Father drew ones attention to the challenges of global capitalism and the redemptive value of work. This encyclical written on the ninetieth anniversary of Rerum Novarum foreshadowed many of the current discussions on globalization, specifically the economic dislocations experienced by workers. In Laborem Exercens, one was reminded about the rights of workers, the payment of just wages, and working conditions that valued and respected the dignity of work and the worker.

Pope John Paul II next addressed the structural dimensions of the human community in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987) in which he entwined human rights with development, the quality of life and the environment, which we inhabit. It is impossible, he argued, to flourish and develop as an individual and as a community in the face of chronic underdevelopment, ecological devastation and the inequitable allocation of goods and resources. Systemic and debilitating poverty, whether brought on by mismanagement or malfeasance strips individuals of their dignity and self worth, and as a result impoverishes the human family.

Harking back to an earlier time, Pope John XXIII issued just prior to the Second Vatican Council the powerful encyclical Mater et Magistra (1961) in which he argued that a just ordering of society must take into account the common good. Put in terms of public policy, it is not feasible to achieve costless policies, someone, somewhere is always harmed, what we can and must do is to be mindful of the other, and not to impose disproportionate costs and unfair burdens on the backs of people who can least bear it.

Solidarity with the poor, with other Churches, with other faiths and peoples is always grounded in the ancient prayer of the Church, “Ut Unum Sint” (That we may be one). Our solidarity is always in the service of humanity, and the Church would be remiss if it failed to uphold the primordial longing of all people in all places to live in harmony, and with dignity and self worth. I am not privy to the decisions of Father Kevin Barr, and I certainly do not speak for him, but from a theological perspective he is exercising his prophetic role in speaking truth to power, by striving for a just, inclusive and fair society.

Can we ask anything less of him?
Ratu Sai said…

Take a bow you have done justice to all concerned.
Qanibulu said…
@ Sundasan ..

You lost me at hello..

Could it be that Father Barr is just another decent human being?

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