Pontiff Hopes G-8 Focuses on Poverty

Lends Support to Prelates' Proposal as Summit Nears

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is supporting a campaign asking that poor nations' development be a priority on the agenda at the G-8 summit in Germany.



A group of 11 cardinals and bishops, together with other Catholic organizations, campaigned on behalf of poor countries, hoping that the June meeting of the Group of Eight countries will bring resolutions for greater aid and debt cancellation. The G-8 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

The delegation of prelates, led by Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, gave a report to the Pope on meetings they had held with heads of governments from Britain, Germany and Italy.

The report also included the proposal of sending a postcard to the government of each country to remind them of their promises to the poor.

Campaign tour

Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga recalled: "The Pope exhorted [German] Chancellor Merkel to put poverty at the center of the G-8 2007 summit, and we praise this initiative.

"We cannot accept that poor people die every day because they do not have shelter, basic medicines and potable water."

The delegation is part of a campaign called "Make Aid Work. The World Can't Wait," coordinated by Caritas Internationalis and an alliance of 15 Catholic organizations for the development of Europe and North America.

The campaign asks the governments of rich and poor countries to ensure that development assistance makes a difference for the poor.

Last Monday, the delegation met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. They then met with German President Horst Köhler and Chancellor Angela Merkel, and finally with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

Little progress

A delegation statement expressed disappointment over the lack of progress on plans to aid developing countries.

It affirmed that it is the duty of the world's leaders to assume the responsibility of promoting the development of global solidarity.

It also asked for a continual effort to resolve ongoing debt crisis in a just and sustainable way, for measures against corruption, and for the keeping of promises to increase development assistance.

The delegation also met with the president of the Italian episcopal conference, Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who said that the whole Church in Italy will continue to dedicate itself to the campaign, asking the promoters to get every parish involved.

"This is not a matter of asking the G-8 to take on new tasks but rather of asking them to respect the ones they have already taken upon themselves -- transparency in international transactions, fighting corruption and controlling arms sales," Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga explained.

"In fact, poverty is growing instead of diminishing," he added, "and what we need are concrete actions, not just words."

According to the cardinal, the campaign "is also a new evangelization, because bringing the social doctrine of the Church to places we have visited is a good thing."