Letter: Justice is better than charity

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The Independent Online
"When I give food to the poor they call me a saint. When I ask 'why' they have no food they call me a communist." These are the words of Dom Helder Camara, a one- time Archbishop in northeast Brazil for over 20 years. Both Mother Teresa and Princess Diana did indeed have much in common. That dangerous word "why" was never on their lips.

Perhaps this explains in part their iconic stature. Both are sweet, sincere, but most of all, safe, and in the long run utterly irrelevant to the 35,000 innocents who die each day because we live in a world which violently rejects any notion of sharing wealth in a more equitable manner. I don't doubt that the world needs compassion. But it needs justice more than charity and perhaps for every embrace it needs the question "why?"

Paul Laverty