Holy See Calls for Study of Global Poverty

Encourages Redirection of Foreign Aid

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GENEVA, JULY 15, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See says that the eradication of poverty is a priority, for the benefit of rich and poor countries alike.



Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said this recently at a session of the U.N. Economic and Social Council in Geneva.

In his July 4 address, the archbishop called for a re-examination of the reasons why developing countries are unable to rise above poverty, noting that the number of people living on less that $2 a day continues to rise.

"Poverty elimination demands an integration between the mechanisms that produce wealth and the mechanisms for the distribution of its benefits at the international, regional and national levels," he said. "In a context of globally increasing wealth and availability of goods, a more systematic and comprehensive analysis is needed to understand how existing methods of trade and mechanisms of production should be modified in order to lift people out of poverty."

Archbishop Tomasi noted that foreign aid has not ended national poverty in some countries and encouraged the directing of aid to community-based organizations, including those sponsored by religious groups.

"Perhaps it is necessary to direct aid to more targeted and less generic projects that can bring about tangible, measurable and empowering change in the daily life experience of individuals and families and in the social fabric of the community," he affirmed. "Directing aid to the creation of jobs would fall within this approach.

"Such effective aid requires multiple channels of distribution and should reach the basic infrastructure of communities that is assured not only by governments but also by community-based organizations and institutions, including those sponsored by faith-groups, such as schools, hospitals and clinics, community centers, and youth training and recreation programs."

Education

Archbishop Tomasi highlighted the special importance of education as a tool to fight poverty.

"An educated person can be fully aware of his/her worth and dignity and that of every human being and can act accordingly," he said. "Consider the most important feature of the person: being relational with others. Educated people can establish among themselves social relations not based on force and abuse but on respect and friendship."

The Holy See representative also noted the need for technological development in poor nations.

He said: "In order to promote development at the macroeconomic level it seems necessary to reinforce the productive capacity of the poorer countries by means of investment in technical formation; this allows for competition in today's knowledge-based economy and gives support to enterprises that create new jobs and decent work.

"In this regard, transnational corporations carry a particular responsibility to facilitate the transfer of technology, sponsor capacity building in management, and enable local partners to provide more employment opportunities.

"Foreign investors need to contribute to the overall development of the country in which they establish operations; this is particularly relevant for those engaged in the extraction industry and other short-term commercial enterprises."

Ethical investment

Archbishop Tomasi also noted the responsibility of governments to "assure conditions that are favorable to ethical investment, including a well functioning juridical system, a stable system of taxation, protection of the right to property, and an infrastructure that allows access by local producers to regional and global markets."

The 66-year-old prelate affirmed that the eradication of poverty is the work not just of poor nations, but of the international community.

"Concrete persons are the motor of development," he said. "Eradication of poverty is a moral engagement. The various religions and cultures see its achievement as a most important task that frees people from much suffering and marginalization, that helps them to live peacefully together, and that provides individuals and communities the freedom to protect their dignity and actively contribute to the common good."