It is only from 1968 onwards that the world-wide phenomenon of poverty and its possible eradication became a major concern in the ecumenical movement. The whole debate on development must be seen in the light, or rather in the darkness, of the church's endorsement of colonialism and neo-colonialism, and its divorce from the working classes. The churches did not draw the consequences from their estrangement of the masses of the poor and exploited for several centuries. Christianity clearly did not succeed in taking adequate account of the demands made on it by the unexpected development of new economic and social conditions. Throughout the period of Western industrial revolution, the structures of the church institutions, with minor adjustments, continued to be those of the pre-industrial world. Instead of listening to the plea of the new underprivileged classes the churches stood aside and remained isolated from the radical aspects of what was happening.