EU and African bishops in new initiative to fight poverty

 An historic gathering of African and European bishops last week has promised fresh hope and vigour in the Church' s fight against poverty and injustice. A total of 50 bishops from Africa, 50 bishops from Europe, and Catholic aid agencies attended a three-day 'Communion and Solidarity between Africa and Europe' conference in Rome. It was the first time such a number of bishops from Africa and Europe have met to look at challenges facing both continents. The meeting gave bishops a deeper understanding of each others' experiences in the face of challenges such as poverty, migration, the family, AIDS, economic solidarity, their relationship with Islam and involvement in politics. The conference also looked at issues such as the widening poverty gap between the developed and developing world. They looked at how to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, a series of promises made by the international community aimed at tackling poverty in the Third World. CAFOD director Chris Bain attended the conference with Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor. Bain said: "The message is that the Church in the north and south stand alongside each other in pressuring governments to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The Church will challenge governments on the need for debt cancellation and fair trade regulations, and remind the rich countries of their undertaking to devote 0.7 per cent of the GNI to aid. "This is the start of something big. When the Catholic Church in Europe and Africa speak with one voice on trade, aid and debt, it will have a huge impact on the lives of millions of poor people. "Campaigners have joined together for 2005 in the Make Poverty History mass mobilization. The support of the bishops on both continents is vital for the success of the campaign."

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