The Holy Father affirmed this in his message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace, marked each Jan. 1. He proposed his reflection on the topic of "Fighting Poverty to Build Peace," focusing on poverty as a cause and effect of conflicts.
In particular, he stated that "fighting poverty requires attentive consideration of the complex phenomenon of globalization." It requires reference to economic and sociological research, as well as reflection on spiritual and moral implications.
The Pope said that this reflection should urge us, "in our dealings with the poor, to set out from the clear recognition that we all share in a single divine plan: We are called to form one family in which all -- individuals, peoples and nations -- model their behavior according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility."
He explained that poverty includes non-material forms, such as "marginalization, as well as affective, moral and spiritual poverty."
The Pontiff added, "When man is not considered within the total context of his vocation, and when the demands of a true 'human ecology' are not respected, the cruel forces of poverty are unleashed."
Benedict XVI discussed various issues within the context of poverty, including its relation to demographic change, the effect of pandemic diseases, the specific needs of impoverished children, and the current food crisis.
He gave specific attention to the relationship between disarmament and development, expressing concern at the "current level of world military expenditure" and resources "diverted from development projects for people."
He continued: "What is more, an excessive increase in military expenditure risks accelerating the arms race, producing pockets of underdevelopment and desperation, so that it can paradoxically become a cause of instability, tension and conflict. […]
"States are therefore invited to reflect seriously on the underlying reasons for conflicts, often provoked by injustice, and to practice courageous self-criticism.
"If relations can be improved, it should be possible to reduce expenditure on arms. The resources saved could then be earmarked for development projects to assist the poorest and most needy individuals and peoples: Efforts expended in this way would be efforts for peace within the human family."
Benedict XVI proposed that the fight against poverty "requires cooperation both on the economic level and on the legal level," so as to allow the international community, and especially poorer countries, to identify and implement strategies to deal with problems such as competition in global markets and the issues related to investment and development.
"Investing in the formation of people and developing a specific and well-integrated culture of enterprise would seem at present to be the right approach in the medium and long term," he said.
The Pope added, "If the poor are to be given priority, then there has to be enough room for an ethical approach to economics on the part of those active in the international market, an ethical approach to politics on the part of those in public office, and an ethical approach to participation capable of harnessing the contributions of civil society at local and international levels."
Citing Pope John Paul II, the German Pontiff said there is a need to "'abandon a mentality in which the poor -- as individuals and as peoples -- are considered a burden, as irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced.'"
He said: "In today's globalized world, it is increasingly evident that peace can be built only if everyone is assured the possibility of reasonable growth: Sooner or later, the distortions produced by unjust systems have to be paid for by everyone. It is utterly foolish to build a luxury home in the midst of desert or decay.
"Globalization on its own is incapable of building peace, and in many cases, it actually creates divisions and conflicts. If anything it points to a need: to be oriented toward a goal of profound solidarity that seeks the good of each and all. In this sense, globalization should be seen as a good opportunity to achieve something important in the fight against poverty, and to place at the disposal of justice and peace resources which were scarcely conceivable previously."
The Holy Father concluded by making an appeal to the faithful, saying that in following Christ's command, the Christian community "will never fail, then, to assure the entire human family of her support through gestures of creative solidarity, not only by 'giving from one's surplus,' but above all by 'a change of lifestyles, of models of production and consumption, and of the established structures of power which today govern societies.'"
"At the start of the New Year, then, I extend to every disciple of Christ and to every person of good will a warm invitation to expand their hearts to meet the needs of the poor and to take whatever practical steps are possible in order to help them," he exhorted. "The truth of the axiom cannot be refuted: 'to fight poverty is to build peace.'"
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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-24524?l=english