Pope urges G8 to take radical steps to combat world poverty

Pope Benedict has urged G8 leaders, due to meet in l'Aquila, in  Italy from 8-10 July, to rewrite global financial rules and defend the world's poor from the effects of the economic downturn, the Vatican has said.

In a letter to Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who will chair the summit, Benedict urges leaders to "listen to the voice of Africa and of the countries that are less developed economically."

The Pope suggests the solution to the global economic crisis lies in "investing in human beings"; maintaining and even " increasing development aid" to poor countries; ensuring an "ethical value" to technical solutions; listening not only to rich countries with major economic success, but also to those "less developed". Pope Benedict notes that the G8 Summit (including the eight richest nations and some others), takes place almost at the same time as the publication of his social encyclical entitled ‘Caritas in Veritate’.

The pontiff asks the heads of state to examine the "economic and financial crisis in progress" as well as  "climate change" and to "convert the model of global development, rendering it capable of effectively promoting an integral human development, inspired by the values of human solidarity and charity in truth."

Recalling the appeals of John Paul II for the cancellation of third world debt and the eradication of poverty, Benedict XVI emphasizes that this can only happen with the solidarity of the governments from more advanced countries. The economic and financial crisis that is affecting the planet makes these responsibilities "ever more pressing." Indeed, "there is now a real risk that not only will the hope of escape from extreme poverty be extinguished, but also that populations which to date had benefited from a minimum material well-being, will fall into poverty."

For this reason - contrary to what all States are doing - the Pope calls for "development aid, especially aid addressed to "enhance human resources,  to be maintained and strengthened, not only in spite of the crisis, but because it is one of the main ways of finding a solution".

Pope Benedict said: “There is a need to invest in humanity, above all by ensuring basic education for all by 2015.”

"Education is indispensable for the functioning of democracy, the fight against corruption, for the exercise of political, economic and social rights, and for the lasting recovery of all states, rich and poor”.

The Pope also stressed that we must maintain an "ethical dimension" to economic solutions. This means that first there is a need for the “effective creation of jobs for all, which permit workers to provide for the needs of their family with dignity, and to carry out their primary responsibilities in educating their children and in being leaders in the communities of which they are part”.  

But, he said, we also need to "reform the international financial structure ... avoiding speculation of credit and ensuring the widespread availability of international public and private credit to the service of production and employment, especially in the most disadvantaged countries and regions."

The pontiff praised the first steps towards multilateralism which have seen the G8 become the G20, enlarging the group to other countries. However, he points out, this enlargement must not only include the "most important countries or those with a more pronounced economic success" (eg. China, India, Brazil), but also the poorest.

He said: "So we hear the voice of Africa and the economically less developed countries! Effective ways must be sought to link the decisions of the various groupings of countries, including the G8, to the United Nations Assembly, where every nation, whatever it’s political and economic weight, can legitimately express itself in a position of equality with others ".

Finally, Benedict XVI expressed his appreciation for the fact that the location for the summit is L'Aquila, a city that suffered a major earthquake, but has also witnessed tremendous solidarity in Italy and abroad.

"This mobilization of solidarity” he concluded,  “could be seen as an invitation to members of the G8 and the governments and peoples of the world to stand united in facing the current challenges which place decisive choices before humanity that cannot be delayed any further and on which the fate of humanity itself, intimately connected with that of creation, depends.”

Source: VIS

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