Acton Institute Powerblog

‘Slave Markets’ and Africa’s Development

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This exchange came yesterday via NPR’s Morning Edition, as Renພ Montagne interviewed Cardinal Roger Mahony, the archbishop of Los Angeles…

RENಞ MONTAGNE: Interesting, because of course, the notion of the vibrancy of the Church in the Southern Hemisphere. Just as an example, you were in Africa, what did you hear that mattered to them that might even surprise Americans?

CARDINAL MAHONY: Well, that their concerns are the impact of globalization, for example. International corporations headquartered in the United States purchase enormous billions of dollars worth of goods from basically slave markets. Their concern is how are we ever going to improve the standard of living if these multinational corporations are able to pay people a dollar a day or a dollar a week in order to produce goods that sell for huge amounts in the United States and other places. So they see the whole development of their countries based on a greater equality among nations.
No doubt Cardinal Mahony sepaks for some Africans. But there’s also no doubt that there are many others who see increased global trade and economic liberalization as critical to the continent’s development.

See what some Africans have to say for themselves:

James Shikwati – "The WTO and the Voice of the Poor"

Rev. Michael Oluwatuyi – "An African Solution for Africa’s Poverty"

Akinyi June Arunga – "Letter from Nairobi: Why the world’s poor are no longer willing to remain ‘indigenous’"(PDF)

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • James W.

    Cardinals, or clergy of any kind, don’t create wealth, they distribute it. They have never started a business, and the payroll they control is either voluntary workers, secretaries, or professional social workers they hire with government subsidies. I am a Catholic, who still for some reason hangs on, even though I gnash my teeth at every service which seems to mention “social justice”. I often wonder how many graces I recieve by feeling such rage against the very clergy that espouses such nonsense. The clear irony is that if the Vatican could dictate economic policy, the entire world would be a toilet rather than just 90% of it. If the poor no longer made so called “slave wages” they would rot in the gutter, dying of starvation, as so many unfortunately do. And most of the cardinals would probably step over their bodies on the way to some ego stroking, boot licking conference called “Ending Poverty Through Social Justice.” I for one do not, and will not ever believe that the Gospels are a marxist primer and that Jesus wants us to steal from our neighbor to give to ourselves, or another neighbor. If heaven is full of socialists, then please, give me hell. And as for my faith, it is stronger than my religion.