|Bishops call for G8 leaders to fulfil commitments to worldâ€™s poor
|June 24, 2009
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|Â The Archbishop of Westminster, Most Rev Vincent Nichols and Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews, have called on governments to protect the poor and vulnerable across the world amidst the ongoing economic crisis.
In a joint letter to the G8’s political leaders, the presidents of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Scotland and the USA called for concerted action to assist developing countries at the upcoming G8 summit, which will take place between 8-10 July near L’Aquila, in Italy.
In a response from Number 10, Prime Minister Gordon Brown thanked the Catholic Church for its work and leadership on these issues. He said it was a moral imperative that world leaders maintain and fulfil their commitments to the world's poorest, particularly during the global downturn as the credibility of the G8 rested on demonstrating that commitments were being fulfilled.
The letter from the Bishops refers to Pope Benedict XVI’s call before the G20 meeting: “Development aid, including the commercial and financial conditions favourable to less developed countries and the cancellation of the external debt of the poorest and most indebted countries, has not been the cause of the crisis and, out of fundamental justice, must not be its victim.”
The letter focuses on the victims of the economic crisis and also those who will be most at risk from the harmful consequences of global warming. It calls for greater dialogue and co-operation to help prevent further economic crises and also an increase to development assistance to reduce global poverty and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The Bishops went on to write:
“The G8 summit takes place in the shadow of a global economic crisis, but its actions can help bring a light of hope to our world. By asking first how a given policy will affect the poor and the vulnerable, you can help assure that the common good of all is served. As a human family we are only as healthy as our weakest members.
“Protecting the poor and the planet are not competing causes; they are moral priorities for all people living in this world.”
Mr Brown wrote: “I also appreciate the strong interest taken by the Catholic Church in climate change. Eradicating poverty in developing countries and tackling climate change are inextricably linked.
“The UK will continue to make every effort to ensure protection of the world's poorest remains central to this year's G8 Summit, which should provide a stepping stone to the G20 meeting later this year.”
Letter from National Conferences of Catholic Bishops to the Leaders of the G8 Nations
June 22, 2009
Hon. Stephen Joseph Harper Hon. Taro Aso
Prime Minister, Canada Prime Minister, Japan
Hon. Nicolas Sarkozy Hon. Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev
President, French Republic President, Russian Federation
Hon. Angela Merkel Hon. Gordon Brown
Chancellor, Federal Republic of Germany Prime Minister, United Kingdom
Hon. Silvio Berlusconi Hon. Barack Obama
President of the Council of Ministers, Italy President, United States of America
Dear Leaders of the Group of 8 Nations:
At a time of global financial and economic crisis, we write on behalf of the Catholic bishops’ conferences in the G8 nations to urge you to take concerted actions to protect poor persons and assist developing countries at the upcoming G8 Summit in Italy. As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, wrote in a letter to Prime Minster Gordon Brown prior to the G20 meeting which the Prime Minister hosted:
The current crisis has raised the spectre of the cancellation or drastic reduction of external assistance programmes, especially for Africa and for less developed countries elsewhere. Development aid, including the commercial and financial conditions favourable to less developed countries and the cancellation of the external debt of the poorest and most indebted countries, has not been the cause of the crisis and, out of fundamental justice, must not be its victim.
Our moral tradition commits the Church to protecting human life and dignity, especially of the poorest, most vulnerable members of the human family. In the faces of poor persons the Catholic Church sees the face of Christ whom we serve in countries throughout the world.
Ironically poor people have contributed the least to the economic crisis facing our world, but their lives and livelihoods are likely to suffer the greatest devastation because they struggle at the margins in crushing poverty. In light of this fact, the G8 nations should
meet their responsibility to promote dialogue with other powerful economies to help prevent further economic crises. In addition, they should meet their commitments to increase Official Development Assistance in order to reduce global poverty and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, especially in African countries. This requires deepening partnerships with developing countries so that their peoples can be active agents in their own development, participating in political, governmental, economic and social reforms that serve the common good of all. In a particular way it is important to strengthen peacekeeping so that armed conflicts do not continue to rob countries of the resources needed for development.
In a similar way, poor countries and peoples who have contributed the least to the human factors driving global climate change are most at risk of its harmful consequences. As Catholic pastors and teachers, we have a special concern for how climate change impacts the poor. Concrete commitments should be agreed upon and mechanisms should be created to mitigate additional global climate change and to help poor persons and developing nations adapt to its effects as well as to adopt appropriate technologies for sustainable development. Protecting the poor and the planet are not competing causes; they are moral priorities for all people living in this world.
The G8 Summit takes place in the shadow of a global economic crisis, but its actions can help bring a light of hope to our world. By asking first how a given policy will affect the poor and the vulnerable, you can help assure that the common good of all is served. As a human family we are only as healthy as our weakest members.
We pray that your meeting will be blessed by a spirit of collaboration that enables you to take steps to reduce poverty and address climate change in a time of crisis.
Most Rev. Vernon James Weisgerber
Archbishop of Winnipeg
President, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
His Eminence AndrĂ© Vingt-Trois
Archbishop of Paris
President of the Bishops’ Conference of France (ConfĂ©rence des Ă©vĂŞques de France)
Most Rev. Robert Zollitsch
Archbishop of Freiburg
President of the German Bishops’ Conference (Deutsche Bischofskonferenz)
His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco
Archbishop of Genoa
President, Bishops’ Conference of Italy
Most Rev. Peter Takeo Okada
Archbishop of ToĚ„kyoĚ„
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan
Most Rev. Joseph Werth
Bishop of the Diocese of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Novosibirsk
President, Conference of Catholic Bishops of the Russian Federation
His Eminence Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien
Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland
Most Rev. Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
His Eminence Francis Cardinal George
Archbishop of Chicago
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Letter from Prime Pinister Gordon Brown to Archbishop Nichols and Cardinal O’Brien
24 June 2009
Dear Cardinal Keith and Archbishop Vincent
Thank you for your letter of 22 June. Like you, I share a passion for, and commitment to, development issues. When we met earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI and I agreed that there is a moral imperative that world leaders maintain and fulfil our commitments to the world's poorest, particularly during the global downturn. I am grateful for your support in drawing attention to this issue ahead of the meeting of the G8 in L'Aquila next month.
I am convinced that we can show the leadership that is required. Building on the agreements at the London G20 Summit, which included agreements of $50bn in support of the poorest countries, I am working with leaders of the G8 and other major economies, ensuring that we continue to provide action on tackling the present crisis and help prevent future crisis.
Critical to this agenda is maintaining and delivering our aid commitments in order to reduce global poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The G8's credibility rests upon demonstrating that our commitments are being fulfilled. The UK is on track to meet our ambitious aid commitments, but we need to improve our ability to track and make progress on past commitments together. I hope the G8 makes progress in this regard.
I am also determined that we make progress on health, and particularly maternal mortality - the MDG that is most off-track. The UK has been working tirelessly to ensure that this G8 signals a strong political commitment to maternal health and secures
additional resources beyond meeting existing G8 commitments. The current economic environment means that we will need to agree on innovative new ways of raising funds for health, something that I know you will support, given that Pope Benedict XVI
purchased the first IFFIm bond in 2006. Progress is vital to demonstrate that we remain engaged and to preserve our credibility in this area.
We must also ensure that recent gains for development are not lost, particularly in the context of armed conflicts which rob people of the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty. It is vital that the G8 continues efforts to strengthen peace keeping and peace
building capacity in Africa, through enhanced coordination and assistance for African-led peace support operations.
I also appreciate the strong interest taken by the Catholic Church in climate change. Eradicating poverty in developing countries and tackling climate change are inextricably linked. The UK is committed to supporting a global deal on climate change at Copenhagen that includes a strong partnership between developing and developed countries. I have written to my fellow leaders proposing that we seek to agree at L'Aquila the main principles - including the UK's proposal for a compact on finance for developing countries - and a timetable for how we get to Copenhagen.
I am grateful for your work and leadership on these issues. The UK will continue to make every effort to ensure protection of the world's poorest remains central to this year's G8 Summit, which should provide a stepping stone to the G20 meeting later this year.