G-20 Summit Urged to Remember Africa
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 31, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is urging the United Kingdom to set the tone for world leaders and remember the poor at this week's Group of 20 summit in London.The Pope spoke on behalf of those "whose voice has least force in the political scene" but who "suffer most from the harmful effects of a crisis for which they do not bear responsibility" in a letter he sent Monday to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The letter comes after Brown's trip to the Vatican and speaks of the G-20 summit scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
The Holy Father particularly mentions the plight of Africa, noting that he has just returned from an apostolic journey there, during which "I had the opportunity to see at first hand the reality of severe poverty and marginalization, which the crisis risks aggravating dramatically."
The Pontiff noted that the G-20, in representing states who have 90% of the world's gross production and 80% of world trade, includes just one nation from sub-Saharan Africa.
"This situation must prompt a profound reflection among the summit participants," he said. In this regard, the Pope urged paying recourse to organizations such as the United Nations, "in order to hear the voices of all countries and to ensure that measures and steps taken at G-20 meetings are supported by all."
Believing in people
Benedict XVI said another element summit leaders should reflect upon is the cause of the economic downturn
"Financial crises are triggered when -- partially due to the decline of correct ethical conduct -- those working in the economic sector lose trust in its modes of operating and in its financial systems," he contended. "Nevertheless, finance, commerce and production systems are contingent human creations which, if they become objects of blind faith, bear within themselves the roots of their own downfall.
"The only true and solid foundation is faith in the human person. For this reason all the measures proposed to rein in this crisis must seek, ultimately, to offer security to families and stability to workers and, through appropriate regulations and controls, to restore ethics to the financial world."
And, the Pope declared, the current crisis cannot bring about a "cancellation or drastic reduction of external assistance programs, especially for Africa and for less developed countries elsewhere."
"Development aid, including the commercial and financial conditions favorable to less developed countries and the cancellation of the external debt of the poorest and most indebted countries, has not been the cause of the crisis and, out of fundamental justice, must not be its victim," he affirmed.
"Positive faith in the human person, and above all faith in the poorest men and women -- of Africa and other regions of the world affected by extreme poverty -- is what is needed if we are truly to come through the crisis once and for all, without turning our back on any region, and if we are definitively to prevent any recurrence of a situation similar to that in which we find ourselves today," the Holy Father added.
Ready to help
In his response to the papal letter, Brown assured his nation's willingness to help protect the poor. He affirmed: "It is vital that rich countries keep their promises on aid, even in these tough times."
The prime minister noted four priorities for the summit.
In addition to helping the poor, he also pointed to finding support for efforts to deal with climate change, as well as reinvigorating global trade and agreeing to "tough measures to better regulate banks and hedge funds and ensure the shadow banking system is regulated."
"This is a decisive moment for the world economy," Brown concluded. "We have a choice to make. We can either let the recession run its course, or we can resolve as a world community to unite, to stand with millions of people struggling in these tough times, to fight back against this global recession that is hurting so many people in every continent. I hope that the world's leaders can come together to rise to this challenge."
Brown referred to the Pope's letter to affirm later at a speech in St. Paul's Cathedral that "markets need morals."
In a discourse with uncharacteristically religious affirmations, the prime minister affirmed that believers from a range of creeds share a moral sense that indicates the path for dealing with the crisis.
He said: "Christians do not say that people should be reduced merely to what they can produce or what they can buy. […] And when Judaism says love your neighbor as yourself. When Muslims say no one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.
"When Buddhists say hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. [...] [T]hey each and all reflect a sense that we all share the pain of others, and […] believe in something bigger than ourselves -- that we cannot be truly content while others face despair."
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