Saturday, December 27, 2008

Catholic Relief Services new book: peacebuilding case studies

Pursuing Just Peace: An Overview and Case Studies for Faith-Based Peacebuilders, edited by M. Rogers, T. Bamat and J. Ideh, 2008

Pursuing Just Peace is a practical resource for Catholic Relief Services staff and its church and secular partners. It also addresses a wider community of peacebuilding practitioners and those grappling with injustice and conflict. It delves into understanding and appreciation for faith-based peacebuilding.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Benedict XVI: Urbi et Orbi Christmas Day 08

Pope decries selfishness in economic crisis

By FRANCES D'EMILIO, Associated Press Writer Frances D'emilio, Associated Press Writer

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI warned in his Christmas message Thursday that the world was headed toward ruin if selfishness prevails over solidarity during tough economic times for rich and poor nations.

Speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict said he was trying to inspire hope in the world.

"Brothers and sisters, all you who are listening to my words: this proclamation of hope — the heart of the Christmas message — is meant for all men and women."

The traditional papal Christmas Day message "Urbi et Orbi" — Latin for "to the City and to the World" (see English text below) — usually covers the globe's hot spots, but this year Benedict also addressed the economic conditions worrying many across the planet amid near-daily news of layoffs, failing companies and people losing homes.

Benedict said his Christmas message applied to "wherever an increasingly uncertain future is regarded with apprehension, even in affluent nations."

"In each of these places may the light of Christmas shine forth and encourage all people to do their part in a spirit of authentic solidarity," Benedict said. "If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart."

Benedict said he hoped the light of Christmas would radiate to places where "the basics needed for survival are missing."

Wearing a crimson mantle against a damp chill, Benedict told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square that God's saving grace could "alone transform evil into good" and "change human hearts, making them oases of peace."

Benedict dedicated part of his message to Africa, singling out Zimbabwe, where hunger is spreading and deepening. He said that people there were "trapped for too long in a political and social crisis which, sadly, keeps worsening."

International pressure has been mounting for longtime Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe to step down, following disputed elections in March. Millions of Zimbabwe's people need food aid, and a cholera epidemic has sharpened problems in a country once considered African's breadbasket.

Suffering also continues in the war-ravaged region of Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Darfur, Sudan, the pope added. In Somalia, people are weighed down with "interminable sufferings" as "the tragic consequences of the lack of stability and peace," he said.

Benedict spoke of violence and tensions in the Middle East, lamenting that "the horizon seems once again bleak for Israelis and Palestinians."

He denounced what he called the "twisted logic of conflict and violence" and said he hoped dialogue and negotiation would prevail to find "just and lasting solutions to the conflicts troubling the region."

Benedict also cited Lebanon and Iraq.

Without naming any particular groups, the pope called for an end to "internecine conflict" dividing ethnic and social groups and disrupting peaceful coexistence. He also denounced terrorism "wherever" it continues to strike.

After reading a litany of the world's woes, the pope added a lighter touch, reciting holiday greetings in 64 languages, including Latin, the Church's official tongue.

The pope had rested for a few hours after celebrating Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in the early hours of Thursday.

During that ceremony, the pope lamented the suffering of children who are abandoned, living on the streets or forced to serve as soldiers in conflicts.

Official English fulltext of B16's noontime Urbi et Orbi Christmas Message:

"The grace of God our Saviour has appeared to all" (Tit 2:11, Vulg.)

Dear brothers and sisters, in the words of the Apostle Paul, I once more joyfully proclaim Christ’s Birth. Today "the grace of God our Saviour" has truly "appeared to all"!

It appeared! This is what the Church celebrates today. The grace of God, rich in goodness and love, is no longer hidden. It "appeared", it was manifested in the flesh, it showed its face. Where? In Bethlehem. When? Under Caesar Augustus, during the first census, which the Evangelist Luke also mentions. And who is the One who reveals it? A newborn Child, the Son of the Virgin Mary. In him the grace of God our Saviour has appeared. And so that Child is called Jehoshua, Jesus, which means: "God saves".

The grace of God has appeared. That is why Christmas is a feast of light. Not like the full daylight which illumines everything, but a glimmer beginning in the night and spreading out from a precise point in the universe: from the stable of Bethlehem, where the divine Child was born. Indeed, he is the light itself, which begins to radiate, as portrayed in so many paintings of the Nativity. He is the light whose appearance breaks through the gloom, dispels the darkness and enables us to understand the meaning and the value of our own lives and of all history. Every Christmas crib is a simple yet eloquent invitation to open our hearts and minds to the mystery of life. It is an encounter with the immortal Life which became mortal in the mystic scene of the Nativity: a scene which we can admire here too, in this Square, as in countless churches and chapels throughout the world, and in every house where the name of Jesus is adored.

The grace of God has appeared to all. Jesus – the face of the "God who saves", did not show himself only for a certain few, but for everyone. Although it is true that in the simple and lowly dwelling of Bethlehem few persons encountered him, still he came for all: Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, those near and those far away, believers and non-believers… for everyone. Supernatural grace, by God’s will, is meant for every creature. Yet each human person needs to accept that grace, to utter his or her own "yes", like Mary, so that his or her heart can be illumined by a ray of that divine light. It was Mary and Joseph, who that night welcomed the incarnate Word, awaiting it with love, along with the shepherds who kept watch over their flocks (cf. Lk 2:1-20). A small community, in other words, which made haste to adore the Child Jesus; a tiny community which represents the Church and all people of good will. Today too those who await him, who seek him in their lives, encounter the God who out of love became our brother – all those who turn their hearts to him, who yearn to see his face and to contribute to the coming of his Kingdom. Jesus himself would say this in his preaching: these are the poor in spirit; those who mourn, the meek, those who thirst for justice; the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for righteousness’ sake (cf. Mt 5:3-10). They are the ones who see in Jesus the face of God and then set out again, like the shepherds of Bethlehem, renewed in heart by the joy of his love.

Brothers and sisters, all you who are listening to my words: this proclamation of hope – the heart of the Christmas message – is meant for all men and women. Jesus was born for everyone, and just as Mary, in Bethlehem, offered him to the shepherds, so on this day the Church presents him to all humanity, so that each person and every human situation may come to know the power of God’s saving grace, which alone can transform evil into good, which alone can change human hearts, making them oases of peace.

May the many people who continue to dwell in darkness and the shadow of death (cf. Lk 1:79) come to know the power of God’s saving grace! May the divine Light of Bethlehem radiate throughout the Holy Land, where the horizon seems once again bleak for Israelis and Palestinians. May it spread throughout Lebanon, Iraq and the whole Middle East. May it bring forth rich fruit from the efforts of all those who, rather than resigning themselves to the twisted logic of conflict and violence, prefer instead the path of dialogue and negotiation as the means of resolving tensions within each country and finding just and lasting solutions to the conflicts troubling the region. This light, which brings transformation and renewal, is besought by the people of Zimbabwe, in Africa, trapped for all too long in a political and social crisis which, sadly, keeps worsening, as well as the men and women of the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially in the war-torn region of Kivu, Darfur, in Sudan, and Somalia, whose interminable sufferings are the tragic consequence of the lack of stability and peace. This light is awaited especially by the children living in those countries, and the children of all countries experiencing troubles, so that their future can once more be filled with hope.

Wherever the dignity and rights of the human person are trampled upon; wherever the selfishness of individuals and groups prevails over the common good; wherever fratricidal hatred and the exploitation of man by man risk being taken for granted; wherever internecine conflicts divide ethnic and social groups and disrupt peaceful coexistence; wherever terrorism continues to strike; wherever the basics needed for survival are lacking; wherever an increasingly uncertain future is regarded with apprehension, even in affluent nations: in each of these places may the Light of Christmas shine forth and encourage all people to do their part in a spirit of authentic solidarity. If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart.

Dear brothers and sisters, today, "the grace of God our Saviour has appeared" (cf. Tit 2:11) in this world of ours, with all its potential and its frailty, its advances and crises, its hopes and travails. Today, there shines forth the light of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High and the son of the Virgin Mary: "God from God, light from light, true God from true God. For us men, and for our salvation, he came down from heaven". Let us adore him, this very day, in every corner of the world, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a lowly manger. Let us adore him in silence, while he, still a mere infant, seems to comfort us by saying: Do not be afraid, "I am God, and there is no other" (Is 45:22). Come to me, men and women, peoples and nations, come to me. Do not be afraid: I have come to bring you the love of the Father, and to show you the way of peace.

Let us go, then, brothers and sisters! Let us make haste, like the shepherds on that Bethlehem night. God has come to meet us; he has shown us his face, full of grace and mercy! May his coming to us not be in vain! Let us seek Jesus, let us be drawn to his light which dispels sadness and fear from every human heart. Let us draw near to him with confidence, and bow down in humility to adore him. Merry Christmas to all!

Rising Hunger Strained Caritas Budgets in '08

ZE08122406 - 2008-12-24

President Says Priority for Next Year Is Peace

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 24, 2008 ( The president of Caritas Internationalis says 2008 was a year of challenges for the aid organization, particularly because 100 million more people are hungry this Christmas.

Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga stated this in his Christmas message, affirming that nevertheless, the organization will redouble its efforts.

"The world food crisis increased by 100 million the number of hungry persons and made it more taxing for Caritas to provide help," he explained.

And, the cardinal contended, "The impact of the financial crisis will endure for a few years. A world built on the base of the globalization of greed and fear, instead of on the base of the globalization of solidarity, was never going to be sustainable."

The cardinal expressed Caritas' fear that "the poorest, those who have benefited least from the decades of unequal economic growth, are those who will pay the highest price for this blunder."

In reviewing 2008, the Honduran prelate emphasized that "as members of Caritas, every day we see the positive effects our work can have in helping the poor to transform their own lives."

He noted, "The forgiveness of debt permitted Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and many other countries to cancel tuitions in primary schools, which has resulted in a dramatic increase in enrollment in just a few short years."

And looking toward the future, Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga said that "the construction of peace will also be one of our key priorities in the new year. In 2008, ethnic and political violence destroyed Kenya, Congo, Georgia and Sri Lanka. Progress in Afghanistan and the Holy Land stagnated.

"As a defender of peace at the national, international and base level, Caritas will redouble its efforts."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

MONDAY MORNING MISSION MEDITATION for week of December 21, 2008

Providing Help. Creating Hope.

VISION: Believing in the presence of God in our midst, we proclaim the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person by sharing in the mission of Jesus given to the Church. To this end, Catholic Charities works with individuals, families, and communities to help them meet their needs, address their issues, eliminate oppression, and build a just and compassionate society.

MISSION: To provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire Church and other people of good will to do the same.

GOALS: Catholic Charities is devoted to helping meet basic human needs, strengthening families, building communities and empowering low-income people. Committed to work to reduce poverty in half by 2020.

KEY VALUE: Hospitality

WHAT WE DO: Organizing Love. "As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community" (Deus Caritas Est, par. 20)

On Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Advent, B Cycle) we read about Mary's visit from Gabriel in Luke's gospel awaiting her reply to God's request to bring forth the Good News: bearing Emmanuel. For Israel, the Ark contained the Word of God; now Mary carried the WORD itself. Mary said "Yes" to the Angel..."let it be done to me according to your Word." The angel reminds Mary that "nothing is impossible with God."

In Catholic Charities, we bring the Good News to the poor with each encounter. We are witnesses to hope and love. We witness to the reality that with God, nothing is impossible. We bring the love of God to life by our very work and service. The Incarnation celebrates the great "Yes" of Mary to bring the Good News to birth. We are called also to say "Yes" to God by sharing that love -- incarnated by our personal work and organized through our institutions.

Some important date(s) this week:

WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 24. Adam. First human being. Lived in the Garden of Eden until expelled by God. Married to Eve. Father of Cain, Abel,Seth and other children. Old Testament Patriarch.

Eve. First woman. Married to Adam. Mother of Cain, Abel and Seth.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 25. Feast of the Nativity. Name derived from Old English: Cristes Maesse, Christ’s Mass. Celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Our Lord. In the earliest days of the Church there was no such feast; the Saviour’s birth was commemorated with the Epiphany by the Greek and other Eastern Churches. First mention of the feast, then kept on 20 May, was made by Clement of Alexandria c.200. The Latin Church began c.300 to observe it on 25 December, though there is no certainty that Our Lord was born on that day. This was originally reserved to the pope alone; beginning about the 4th century he celebrated a midnight Mass in the Lateran Basilica (in which according to tradition, the manger of Bethlehem is preserved), a second in the church of Saint Anastasia, whose feast comes on 25 December, and a third at the Vatican Basilica. Many peculiar customs of the day are the outcome of the pagan celebrations of the January calends. The Christmas tree, of which the first known mention was made in 1605 at Strasbourg, was introduced into France and England in 1840. The feast is a holy day of obligation, preceded by the preparatory season of Advent and by a special vigil.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 26. Stephen the Deacon. First Christian martyr. Deacon. Preacher. All we know of him is related in the Acts of the Apostles. While preachingthe Gospel in the streets, angry Jews who believed his message to be blasphemy dragged him outside the city, and stoned him to death. In the crowd, on the side of the mob, was a man who would later be known as SaintPaul the Apostle.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 27. St John the Apostle. Son of Zebedee and Salome. Fisherman. Brother of Saint James the Great, and called one of the Sons of Thunder. Disciple of Saint John the Baptist. Friend of Saint Peter the Apostle. Called by Jesus during the first year of His ministry, and traveled everywhere with Him, becoming so close as to be known as the beloved disciple. Took part in the Last Supper. The only one of the Twelve not to forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion, standing at the foot of the cross. Made guardian of Our Lady by Jesus, he took her into his home. Upon hearing of the Resurrection, he was the first to reach the tomb; when he met the risen Lord at the lake of Tiberias, he was the first to recognize Him. During the era of the new Church, he worked in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. During Jesus' ministry, he tried to block a Samaritan from their group, but Jesus explained the open nature of the new Way, and he worked on that principle to found churches in Asia Minor and baptizing converts in Samaria. Imprisoned with Peter for preaching after Pentecost. Wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and possibly the Book of Revelation. Survived all his fellow apostles.


That in the face of a spreading of a culture of violence and death the Church through her apostolic and missionary activity may promote with courage the culture of life.
That especially in mission countries Christians may show with acts of fraternal love that the Child born in the stable at Bethlehem is the luminous Hope of the world.

Corporal Works of Mercy: The seven practices of charity toward our neighbor
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Visit those in prison
Bury the dead

See our website at for links to the our ministries and services.

For more information on Catholic Social Doctrine and its connection to our ministries, visit my blog at:

Thursday, December 18, 2008


WASHINGTON — A final regulation protecting health care providers’ conscience rights was issued December 18 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The U.S. Catholic bishops’ spokesperson on abortion, Deirdre A. McQuade, welcomed the published regulation as a way to protect medical personnel from being coerced to violate their consciences in federally funded programs. The regulation clarifies and implements existing federal statutes enacted by Congress in 1973, 1996 and 2004. (See text of these laws.)

“Individuals and institutions committed to healing should not be required to take the very human life that they are dedicated to protecting,” McQuade said. “The enforcement of federal laws to protect their freedom of conscience is long overdue.”

“Catholic health care providers will especially welcome this mark of respect for the excellent life-affirming care they provide to all in need. But Catholics do not stand alone in opposition to the deliberate destruction of nascent human life. All health care providers should be free to serve their patients without violating their most deeply held moral and religious convictions in support of life,” McQuade said.

“The USCCB thanks Secretary Michael Leavitt for implementing this regulation,” McQuade said. “We urge the incoming Congress and Administration to honor this much-needed implementation of longstanding laws. Respect for conscience rights on abortion should be a strong point of agreement among those considering themselves ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice.’ Yet this regulation is already under attack. A month before it was even published, pro-abortion senators had introduced a bill (S. 20) to invalidate it regardless of its content.”

The USCCB issued a statement on August 21 welcoming the proposed regulation when it was first released for public comment. Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chair of the bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, also wrote to Congress urging respect for conscience protection measures. Formal comments on the proposal were later submitted by the USCCB Office of General Counsel.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Providing Help. Creating Hope.

VISION: Believing in the presence of God in our midst, we proclaim the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person by sharing in the mission of Jesus given to the Church. To this end, Catholic Charities works with individuals, families, and communities to help them meet their needs, address their issues, eliminate oppression, and build a just and compassionate society.

MISSION: To provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire Church and other people of good will to do the same.

GOALS: Catholic Charities is devoted to helping meet basic human needs, strengthening families, building communities and empowering low-income people. Committed to work to reduce poverty in half by 2020.

KEY VALUE: Hospitality

WHAT WE DO: Organizing Love. "As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community" (Deus Caritas Est, par. 20)

On Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent, B Cycle) we read John's gospel that John the Baptist is the one who cries out: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord.’" John always points to one greater than him who is coming. We read in the Prophet Isaiah that One is coming who is filled with the Spirit who will make things anew with justice. One who will bring good news to the poor. Great Rejoicing is our response. Rejoice. (Today is Gaudete Sunday)

In Catholic Charities, we witness to the Good News to the poor incarnated in Christ Jesus. We are called upon to bring joy into a person's life that comes to us for help. We may not always be able to respond to all their needs directly, but we can be a sign of that love and hope that "Emmanuel" promises.

Some important date(s) this week:

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 14. St. John of the Cross (1541-1591) John is a saint because his life was a heroic effort to live up to his name: “of the Cross.” The folly of the cross came to full realization in time. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34b) is the story of John’s life. The Paschal Mystery—through death to life—strongly marks John as reformer, mystic-poet and theologian-priest. Ordained a Carmelite priest at 25 (1567), John met Teresa of Jesus (Avila) and like her vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely—to experience the dying of Jesus—as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God!

Yet, the paradox! In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John’s spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle. See his classic, "Dark Night of the Soul."


That in the face of a spreading of a culture of violence and death the Church through her apostolic and missionary activity may promote with courage the culture of life.
That especially in mission countries Christians may show with acts of fraternal love that the Child born in the stable at Bethlehem is the luminous Hope of the world.

Corporal Works of Mercy: The seven practices of charity toward our neighbor

1. Feed the hungry
2. Give drink to the thirsty
3. Clothe the naked
4. Shelter the homeless
5. Visit the sick
6. Visit those in prison
7. Bury the dead

See our website at for links to the our ministries and services.

For more information on Catholic Social Doctrine and its connection to our ministries, visit my blog at:

Friday, December 12, 2008


VATICAN CITY , 12 DEC 2008 ( VIS ) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office the Instruction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “Dignitas Personae” on certain bioethical questions was presented. It was published in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Polish.

Archbishops Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Bishop Elio Sgreccia, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life; and Maria Luisa Di Pietro, associate professor of Bioethics at the Sacred Heart University, Rome and President of the “Science and Life” Association took part in the press conference.

Archbishop Ladaria affirmed that this instruction is the fruit of study that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith undertook in 2002 on new questions in bioethics with the goal of bringing the same dicastery’s instruction “Donum vitae” (1987) up to date. The document, approved by the Pope, “forms part of the ordinary Magisterium of the Successor of Peter” and “is of a doctrinal nature”.

This instruction “encourages biomedical investigation that respects the dignity of all human beings and of procreation. ... At the same time, it does not exclude diverse biomedical technology as ethically illicit and”, he said, “will probably be accused of containing too many prohibitions. Nevertheless, faced with this possible accusation it is necessary to emphasize that the Church feels the duty of making those without voices heard”.

Archbishop Fisichella noted that the document “attempts to express the Church’s proper, authorized contribution to the formation of conscience, not only of believers but also of those who try to hear the arguments presented and to debate them. This is”, he said, “an intervention that forms part of the Church’s mission and should be listened to not only as legitimate but also as necessary in a pluralist, secular, and democratic society”.

For her part, Professor Di Pietro noted that before examining the questions dealt with in the document, such as techniques of assisting fertility, in vitro fertilization, the freezing of embryos and eggs, embryo reduction, and pre-implant diagnosis, “it is necessary to remember the three fundamental goods that govern each of the decisions”:

- The recognition of the dignity of the person of each human being from conception to natural death, with the consequent subjectivity of the right to life and physical integrity.

- The unity of marriage, which carries with it the reciprocal respect of the right of the spouses to become father and mother only through one another.

- The specifically human values of sexuality that “demand that the procreation of a human person be desired as the fruit of the conjugal act specific to the love between spouses”.

Bishop Sgreccia referred to the third part of the document that speaks of newly proposed therapies that involve the manipulation of the embryo or the human genetic patrimony.

“The text holds that it is necessary”, he said, “to keep in mind one fundamental distinction: theoretically, genetic therapy can be applied to somatic cells with directly therapeutic ends or to germinal cells”. As regards the latter, “it is not possible to intervene as there still does not exist a safe technique”, he stressed, “because it could entail the risk of deformation in the hereditary genetic patrimony of future generations”.

The former president of the Pontifical Academy for Life affirmed that “the distinction between reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning is untenable and thus also always presupposes a reproduction”.

Click here to read the summary of the document


Thursday, December 11, 2008


1 JANUARY 2009

1. Once again, as the new year begins, I want to extend good wishes for peace to people everywhere. With this Message I would like to propose a reflection on the theme: Fighting Poverty to Build Peace. Back in 1993, my venerable Predecessor Pope John Paul II, in his Message for the World Day of Peace that year, drew attention to the negative repercussions for peace when entire populations live in poverty. Poverty is often a contributory factor or a compounding element in conflicts, including armed ones. In turn, these conflicts fuel further tragic situations of poverty. "Our world", he wrote, "shows increasing evidence of another grave threat to peace: many individuals and indeed whole peoples are living today in conditions of extreme poverty. The gap between rich and poor has become more marked, even in the most economically developed nations. This is a problem which the conscience of humanity cannot ignore, since the conditions in which a great number of people are living are an insult to their innate dignity and as a result are a threat to the authentic and harmonious progress of the world community" [1].
2. In this context, fighting poverty requires attentive consideration of the complex phenomenon of globalization. This is important from a methodological standpoint, because it suggests drawing upon the fruits of economic and sociological research into the many different aspects of poverty. Yet the reference to globalization should also alert us to the spiritual and moral implications of the question, urging 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 behaviour according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility.
This perspective requires an understanding of poverty that is wide-ranging and well articulated. If it were a question of material poverty alone, then the social sciences, which enable us to measure phenomena on the basis of mainly quantitative data, would be sufficient to illustrate its principal characteristics. Yet we know that other, non-material forms of poverty exist which are not the direct and automatic consequence of material deprivation. For example, in advanced wealthy societies, there is evidence of marginalization, as well as affective, moral and spiritual poverty, seen in people whose interior lives are disoriented and who experience various forms of malaise despite their economic prosperity. On the one hand, I have in mind what is known as "moral underdevelopment"[2], and on the other hand the negative consequences of "superdevelopment"[3]. Nor can I forget that, in so-called "poor" societies, economic growth is often hampered by cultural impediments which lead to inefficient use of available resources. It remains true, however, that every form of externally imposed poverty has at its root a lack of respect for the transcendent dignity of the human person. When man is not considered within the total context of his vocation, and when the demands of a true "human ecology" [4] are not respected, the cruel forces of poverty are unleashed, as is evident in certain specific areas that I shall now consider briefly one by one.

Poverty and moral implications
3. Poverty is often considered a consequence of demographic change. For this reason, there are international campaigns afoot to reduce birth-rates, sometimes using methods that respect neither the dignity of the woman, nor the right of parents to choose responsibly how many children to have[5]; graver still, these methods often fail to respect even the right to life. The extermination of millions of unborn children, in the name of the fight against poverty, actually constitutes the destruction of the poorest of all human beings. And yet it remains the case that in 1981, around 40% of the world's population was below the threshold of absolute poverty, while today that percentage has been reduced by as much as a half, and whole peoples have escaped from poverty despite experiencing substantial demographic growth. This goes to show that resources to solve the problem of poverty do exist, even in the face of an increasing population. Nor must it be forgotten that, since the end of the Second World War, the world's population has grown by four billion, largely because of certain countries that have recently emerged on the international scene as new economic powers, and have experienced rapid development specifically because of the large number of their inhabitants. Moreover, among the most developed nations, those with higher birth-rates enjoy better opportunities for development. In other words, population is proving to be an asset, not a factor that contributes to poverty.
4. Another area of concern has to do with pandemic diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS. Insofar as they affect the wealth-producing sectors of the population, they are a significant factor in the overall deterioration of conditions in the country concerned. Efforts to rein in the consequences of these diseases on the population do not always achieve significant results. It also happens that countries afflicted by some of these pandemics find themselves held hostage, when they try to address them, by those who make economic aid conditional upon the implementation of anti-life policies. It is especially hard to combat AIDS, a major cause of poverty, unless the moral issues connected with the spread of the virus are also addressed. First and foremost, educational campaigns are needed, aimed especially at the young, to promote a sexual ethic that fully corresponds to the dignity of the person; initiatives of this kind have already borne important fruits, causing a reduction in the spread of AIDS. Then, too, the necessary medicines and treatment must be made available to poorer peoples as well. This presupposes a determined effort to promote medical research and innovative forms of treatment, as well as flexible application, when required, of the international rules protecting intellectual property, so as to guarantee necessary basic healthcare to all people.
5. A third area requiring attention in programmes for fighting poverty, which once again highlights its intrinsic moral dimension, is child poverty. When poverty strikes a family, the children prove to be the most vulnerable victims: almost half of those living in absolute poverty today are children. To take the side of children when considering poverty means giving priority to those objectives which concern them most directly, such as caring for mothers, commitment to education, access to vaccines, medical care and drinking water, safeguarding the environment, and above all, commitment to defence of the family and the stability of relations within it. When the family is weakened, it is inevitably children who suffer. If the dignity of women and mothers is not protected, it is the children who are affected most.
6. A fourth area needing particular attention from the moral standpoint is the relationship between disarmament and development. The current level of world military expenditure gives cause for concern. As I have pointed out before, it can happen that "immense military expenditure, involving material and human resources and arms, is in fact diverted from development projects for peoples, especially the poorest who are most in need of aid. This is contrary to what is stated in the Charter of the United Nations, which engages the international community and States in particular 'to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources' (art. 26)" [6].
This state of affairs does nothing to promote, and indeed seriously impedes, attainment of the ambitious development targets of the international community. 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. As my venerable Predecessor Paul VI wisely observed, "the new name for peace is development"[7]. States are therefore invited to reflect seriously on the underlying reasons for conflicts, often provoked by injustice, and to practise 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.
7. A fifth area connected with the fight against material poverty concerns the current food crisis, which places in jeopardy the fulfilment of basic needs. This crisis is characterized not so much by a shortage of food, as by difficulty in gaining access to it and by different forms of speculation: in other words, by a structural lack of political and economic institutions capable of addressing needs and emergencies. Malnutrition can also cause grave mental and physical damage to the population, depriving many people of the energy necessary to escape from poverty unaided. This contributes to the widening gap of inequality, and can provoke violent reactions. All the indicators of relative poverty in recent years point to an increased disparity between rich and poor. No doubt the principal reasons for this are, on the one hand, advances in technology, which mainly benefit the more affluent, and on the other hand, changes in the prices of industrial products, which rise much faster than those of agricultural products and raw materials in the possession of poorer countries. In this way, the majority of the population in the poorest countries suffers a double marginalization, through the adverse effects of lower incomes and higher prices.
Global solidarity and the fight against poverty
8. One of the most important ways of building peace is through a form of globalization directed towards the interests of the whole human family[8]. In order to govern globalization, however, there needs to be a strong sense of global solidarity [9] between rich and poor countries, as well as within individual countries, including affluent ones. A "common code of ethics"[10]
is also needed, consisting of norms based not upon mere consensus, but rooted in the natural law inscribed by the Creator on the conscience of every human being (cf. Rom 2:14-15). Does not every one of us sense deep within his or her conscience a call to make a personal contribution to the common good and to peace in society? Globalization eliminates certain barriers, but is still able to build new ones; it brings peoples together, but spatial and temporal proximity does not of itself create the conditions for true communion and authentic peace. Effective means to redress the marginalization of the world's poor through globalization will only be found if people everywhere feel personally outraged by the injustices in the world and by the concomitant violations of human rights. The Church, which is the "sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race" [11] will continue to offer her contribution so that injustices and misunderstandings may be resolved, leading to a world of greater peace and solidarity.
9. In the field of international commerce and finance, there are processes at work today which permit a positive integration of economies, leading to an overall improvement in conditions, but there are also processes tending in the opposite direction, dividing and marginalizing peoples, and creating dangerous situations that can erupt into wars and conflicts. Since the Second World War, international trade in goods and services has grown extraordinarily fast, with a momentum unprecedented in history. Much of this global trade has involved countries that were industrialized early, with the significant addition of many newly- emerging countries which have now entered onto the world stage. Yet there are other low-income countries which are still seriously marginalized in terms of trade. Their growth has been negatively influenced by the rapid decline, seen in recent decades, in the prices of commodities, which constitute practically the whole of their exports. In these countries, which are mostly in Africa, dependence on the exportation of commodities continues to constitute a potent risk factor. Here I should like to renew an appeal for all countries to be given equal opportunities of access to the world market, without exclusion or marginalization.
10. A similar reflection may be made in the area of finance, which is a key aspect of the phenomenon of globalization, owing to the development of technology and policies of liberalization in the flow of capital between countries. Objectively, the most important function of finance is to sustain the possibility of long- term investment and hence of development. Today this appears extremely fragile: it is experiencing the negative repercussions of a system of financial dealings – both national and global – based upon very short-term thinking, which aims at increasing the value of financial operations and concentrates on the technical management of various forms of risk. The recent crisis demonstrates how financial activity can at times be completely turned in on itself, lacking any long-term consideration of the common good. This lowering of the objectives of global finance to the very short term reduces its capacity to function as a bridge between the present and the future, and as a stimulus to the creation of new opportunities for production and for work in the long term. Finance limited in this way to the short and very short term becomes dangerous for everyone, even for those who benefit when the markets perform well[12].
11. All of this would indicate 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 coordinated strategies to deal with the problems discussed above, thereby providing an effective legal framework for the economy. Incentives are needed for establishing efficient participatory institutions, and support is needed in fighting crime and fostering a culture of legality. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that policies which place too much emphasis on assistance underlie many of the failures in providing aid to poor countries. 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. If economic activities require a favourable context in order to develop, this must not distract attention from the need to generate revenue. While it has been rightly emphasized that increasing per capita income cannot be the ultimate goal of political and economic activity, it is still an important means of attaining the objective of the fight against hunger and absolute poverty. Hence, the illusion that a policy of mere redistribution of existing wealth can definitively resolve the problem must be set aside. In a modern economy, the value of assets is utterly dependent on the capacity to generate revenue in the present and the future. Wealth creation therefore becomes an inescapable duty, which must be kept in mind if the fight against material poverty is to be effective in the long term.
12. 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. International agencies themselves have come to recognize the value and advantage of economic initiatives taken by civil society or local administrations to promote the emancipation and social inclusion of those sectors of the population that often fall below the threshold of extreme poverty and yet are not easily reached by official aid. The history of twentieth-century economic development teaches us that good development policies depend for their effectiveness on responsible implementation by human agents and on the creation of positive partnerships between markets, civil society and States. Civil society in particular plays a key part in every process of development, since development is essentially a cultural phenomenon, and culture is born and develops in the civil sphere[13].
13. As my venerable Predecessor Pope John Paul II had occasion to remark, globalization "is notably ambivalent"[14] and therefore needs to be managed with great prudence. This will include giving priority to the needs of the world's poor, and overcoming the scandal of the imbalance between the problems of poverty and the measures which have been adopted in order to address them. The imbalance lies both in the cultural and political order and in the spiritual and moral order. In fact we often consider only the superficial and instrumental causes of poverty without attending to those harboured within the human heart, like greed and narrow vision. The problems of development, aid and international cooperation are sometimes addressed without any real attention to the human element, but as merely technical questions – limited, that is, to establishing structures, setting up trade agreements, and allocating funding impersonally. What the fight against poverty really needs are men and women who live in a profoundly fraternal way and are able to accompany individuals, families and communities on journeys of authentic human development.
14. In the Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, John Paul II warned of the 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." The poor, he wrote, "ask for the right to share in enjoying material goods and to make good use of their capacity for work, thus creating a world that is more just and prosperous for all" [15]. 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 towards 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.
15. The Church's social teaching has always been concerned with the poor. At the time of the Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum, the poor were identified mainly as the workers in the new industrial society; in the social Magisterium of Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II, new forms of poverty were gradually explored, as the scope of the social question widened to reach global proportions[16]. This expansion of the social question to the worldwide scale has to be considered not just as a quantitative extension, but also as a qualitative growth in the understanding of man and the needs of the human family. For this reason, while attentively following the current phenomena of globalization and their impact on human poverty, the Church points out the new aspects of the social question, not only in their breadth but also in their depth, insofar as they concern man's identity and his relationship with God. These principles of social teaching tend to clarify the links between poverty and globalization and they help to guide action towards the building of peace. Among these principles, it is timely to recall in particular the "preferential love for the poor"[17], in the light of the primacy of charity, which is attested throughout Christian tradition, beginning with that of the early Church (cf. Acts 4:32-36; 1 Cor 16:1; 2 Cor 8-9; Gal 2:10).
"Everyone should put his hand to the work which falls to his share, at once and immediately", wrote Leo XIII in 1891, and he added: "In regard to the Church, her cooperation will never be wanting, be the time or the occasion what it may"[18]. It is in the same spirit that the Church to this day carries out her work for the poor, in whom she sees Christ[19], and she constantly hears echoing in her heart the command of the Prince of Peace to his Apostles: "Vos date illis manducare – Give them something to eat yourselves" (Lk 9:13). Faithful to this summons from the Lord, 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 life- styles, of models of production and consumption, and of the established structures of power which today govern societies" [20]. 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. The truth of the axiom cannot be refuted: "to fight poverty is to build peace."
From the Vatican, 8 December 2008.

[1] Message for the 1993 World Day of Peace, 1.
[2] Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 19.
[3] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 28.
[4] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 38.
[5] Cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 37; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 25.
[6] Benedict XVI, Letter to Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino on the occasion of the International Seminar organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the theme: "Disarmament, Development and Peace. Prospects for Integral Disarmament", 10 April 2008: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 30 April 2008, p. 2.
[7] Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 87.
[8] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 58.
[9] Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Christian Associations of Italian Working People, 27 April 2002, 4: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XXV:1 (2002), p. 637.
[10] John Paul II, Address to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, 27 April 2001, 4: L'Osservatore Romano, English Edition, 2 May 2001, p. 7.
[11] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 1.
[12] Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 368.
[13] Cf. ibid., 356.
[14] Address to Leaders of Trade Unions and Workers' Associations, 2 May 2000, 3: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XXIII, 1 (2000), p. 726.
[15] No. 28.
[16] Cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 3.
[17] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 42; cf. Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 57.
[18] Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum, 45.
[19] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 58.
[20] Ibid.

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Eucharist/Solidarity: Pope Benedict XVI

Continuing his reflections on communion, mission, justice, solidarity and the sacraments as a teaser for his delayed social encyclical, the Pope at this morning's General Audience:

The Eucharist has a "personal and social character": "Christ unites himself with me, but also with those beside me, and so unites himself equally with my neighbor"; "we are all one bread, one body."

"And this is communion -- without solidarity with others the Eucharist is abused."...

Human history, in fact, has two "beginnings," the first is "tainted by the abuse of freedom, which intends to emancipate itself from God, but this is not how freedom is found, instead one opposes the truth and then falsifies the fundamental relationships between man and God, man and woman, man and the earth." But there exists "a second beginning of history, in Jesus Christ. With him, the new history is formed not by the pride of a false emancipation, but by love and truth."

Continuing to illustrate the thought of St. Paul, the pope today examined the question of "how we can enter into this new beginning." "We are linked to the first humanity through biological descent," but "how is the new humanity realized, how does Jesus enter my life?"

St. Paul says that this takes place through the Holy Spirit. In the first place, "the Spirit knocks at the door of my heart, but in order that he may truly unite us, in order that he may overcome divisions and gather together those who are different, two elements are necessary, the word and proclamation, and the sacraments." Especially Baptism and the Eucharist. "St. Paul says, how can we call upon Jesus without having heard about him, without anyone to proclaim him, and how will they proclaim if they have not been sent?" Faith "comes from hearing, it is not a product of our mind, it is a product of proclamation, of listening, it is not only an interior journey, but a relationship, it presupposes an encounter between the proclamation and the other, it presupposes the existence of the other who proclaims and creates communion. And the one who proclaims is sent, he is part of a structure of mission that begins with Jesus, sent by the Father, and continues with the apostles and with the Church." "Again there appears the structure of mission in which we ultimately hear God himself speaking."

In the second place is Baptism. Regarding this, the pope highlighted that "in the first place, no one can baptize himself, he needs another, no one can make himself Christian, on his own he is 'passive', only the other can make us Christian. And this other is, in the first instance, the community of believers," the Church, and "without allowing ourselves to be formed by this community, we do not become Christian." "In the second instance, this community itself does not act on its own, according to its own desires, it also lives in a 'passive' way, by Christ."

Baptism "brings death and resurrection. It begins a new life. It is more than a cosmetic operation, it is a new beginning. It is rebirth, death and resurrection." And "obviously, any goodness in the former man also rises again."

As for the Eucharist, "the cup and the bread, are these not communion with the body of Christ?" "We, being many, are one body, we participate in the one bread." This highlights the "personal and social character of the sacrament of the Eucharist." "Christ gives us his body, and in this way he makes us his body. In holy communion, Christ assimilates us to himself, he introduces us into his glorious body, and in this way we all together become one body." It is partly for this reason that the Church, unlike the state, "is not an organization, "a "corporation," but "an organism."

Marriage is also part of the same logic, because this "depicts the love of Christ for his Church," "the relationship between Christ and the Church brings to the forefront the theological aspect of marital love, and it exalts the affective relationship between the spouses. An authentic marriage is lived well if in constant human-affective growth it remains always connected to the efficacy of the Word and to the significance of Baptism. Participation in the body and blood of the Lord," he concluded, "does nothing other than cement a union that has been made indissoluble by grace."

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Providing Help. Creating Hope.

VISION: Believing in the presence of God in our midst, we proclaim the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person by sharing in the mission of Jesus given to the Church. To this end, Catholic Charities works with individuals, families, and communities to help them meet their needs, address their issues, eliminate oppression, and build a just and compassionate society.

MISSION: To provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire Church and other people of good will to do the same.

GOALS: Catholic Charities is devoted to helping meet basic human needs, strengthening families, building communities and empowering low-income people. Committed to work to reduce poverty in half by 2020.

KEY VALUE: Hospitality

WHAT WE DO: Organizing Love. "As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community" (Deus Caritas Est, par. 20)

On Sunday (Second Sunday of Advent,B) we start from the beginning of Mark's Gospel declaring that his work tells the story of Jesus, the Son of God. John the Baptist provides the lead story pointing to another, 'greater' than he is himself....John the Baptist points to a new way -- the life of Jesus. This is what we are called to be like...our lives need to point to a new reality, a new hope: Jesus. We hear in the first reading from Isaiah that this new way is filled with "comfort." A new heavens and a new earth, as told by St Peter, is our message of hope.

For us in Catholic Charities, we are called to be a sign of hope and comfort for all we meet. By our ministries and services we point to Christ as our foundation and our purpose. In this time of fear, due to major economic restructuring, we are called to be that sign of love and hope; we are called to be that comfort for many who come to our doors.

Some important date(s) this week:

MONDAY, DECEMBER 8. Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Arose in the Eastern Church in the seventh century. It came to the West in the eighth century. In the eleventh century it received its present name, the Immaculate Conception. In the eighteenth century it became a feast of the universal Church.

In 1854 Pius IX gave the infallible statement: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.”

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9. St. Juan Diego. 1474-1548. First called Cuauhtlatohuac (“The eagle who speaks”), Juan Diego’s name is forever linked with Our Lady of Guadalupe because it was to him that she first appeared at Tepeyac hill on December 9, 1531. The most famous part of his story is told in connection with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12). After the roses gathered in his tilma were transformed into the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, however, little more is said about Juan Diego.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 12. Our Lady of Guadalupe. sixteenth century.A poor Indian named Cuauhtlatohuac was baptized and given the name Juan Diego. He was a 57-year-old widower and lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning, December 9, 1531, he was on his way to a nearby barrio to attend Mass in honor of Our Lady.

He was walking by a hill called Tepeyac when he heard beautiful music like the warbling of birds. A radiant cloud appeared and within it a young Native American maiden dressed like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga. The bishop was to build a chapel in the place where the lady appeared. Eventually the bishop told Juan Diego to have the lady give him a sign. About this same time Juan Diego’s uncle became seriously ill. This led poor Diego to try to avoid the lady. The lady found Diego, nevertheless, assured him that his uncle would recover and provided roses for Juan to carry to the bishop in his cape or tilma.
When Juan Diego opened his tilma in the bishop’s presence, the roses fell to the ground and the bishop sank to his knees. On Juan Diego’s tilma appeared an image of Mary as she had appeared at the hill of Tepeyac. It was December 12, 1531.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13. St, Lucy. The single fact survives that a disappointed suitor accused Lucy of being a Christian and she was executed in Syracuse (Sicily) in the year 304.She is the patroness of eyesight.


That in the face of a spreading of a culture of violence and death the Church through her apostolic and missionary activity may promote with courage the culture of life.
That especially in mission countries Christians may show with acts of fraternal love that the Child born in the stable at Bethlehem is the luminous Hope of the world.

Corporal Works of Mercy: The seven practices of charity toward our neighbor

1. Feed the hungry
2. Give drink to the thirsty
3. Clothe the naked
4. Shelter the homeless
5. Visit the sick
6. Visit those in prison
7. Bury the dead

See our website at for links to the our ministries and services.

For more information on Catholic Social Doctrine and its connection to our ministries, visit my blog at:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Child specific drugs needed: Caritas

Published: December 03, 2008

Caritas International has issued a call to pharmaceutical companies to develop affordable drugs specifically for children with HIV/AIDS, many of whom die before their second birthday.

Lesley-Anne Knight, the secretary general of the Rome based organisation, said in a statement released in Vienna that one third of adult HIV positive adults, but only 15 percent of infected children worldwide, had access to anti-retroviral drugs, which can delay the onset of AIDS, Monsters and Critics reports.

"We therefore ask pharmaceutical companies to develop child friendly medication and to sell them at affordable prices. We call on governments to support this research," Knight said.

Caritas and other Catholic organisations provide around a quarter of medical AIDS relief in Africa.

Children under the age of 15 accounted for 2.1 million of the 33.2 million people living with HIV in 2007, according to a joint report by the World Health Organisation and several other UN agencies published in April.

Of these children, 90 percent lived in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2007, some 420,000 children were infected with the virus globally and 290,000 died of AIDS, according to the report.


Catholic charity Caritas calls for children-specific HIV drugs (Monsters and Critics, 2/12/08)

Thursday, December 4, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 4 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States yesterday participated in a ceremony, held in Oslo, Norway, to sign a Convention prohibiting the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions, the text of which was approved on 30 May in Dublin, Ireland.

In his address, Archbishop Mamberti stated that "in order to send out a powerful political signal, the Holy See is ratifying this Convention on the same day as the signing. In the first place we wish to express to victims the human proximity of the Holy See and its institutions. We also wish to launch an appeal to States - especially to the producers, exporters and potential consumers of cluster munitions - to join the current signatories, so as to assure victims, and all countries gravely affected by these arms, that their message has been understood.

"Credible security is not only possible, but actually more effective, when it is based on co-operation, on trust and on a just international order", while "order founded on the balance of power is fragile, unstable and a source of conflict", the archbishop added.

The head of the Holy See delegation to the Oslo ceremony then indicated that "through contributions on everyone's part, the house of peace is now stronger, yet perseverance and patience are indispensable for its consolidation".

An English-language declaration accompanying Archbishop Mamberti's speech states that "in ratifying the Convention ... the Holy See desires to encourage the entire international community to be resolute in promoting effective disarmament and arms control negotiations and in strengthening international humanitarian law by reaffirming the pre-eminent and inherent value of human dignity, the centrality of the human person, and the 'elementary considerations of humanity', all of which are elements that constitute the basis of international humanitarian law.

"The Holy See considers the Convention on cluster munitions an important step in the protection of civilians during and after conflicts, from the indiscriminate effects of this inhumane type of weapon", the text adds.

"The Holy See", the document concludes, "considers the implementation of the Convention as a legal and humanitarian challenge for the near future. An effective implementation should be based on constructive co-operation of all governmental and non governmental actors and should reinforce the link between disarmament and development. This can be done by directing human and material resources towards development, justice and peace, which are the most effective means to promote international security and a peaceful international order".


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holy See: International Finance and Development Meeting


VATICAN CITY, 2 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, yesterday participated in an international conference on financing for development being held in Doha, Qatar.

"Social and economic development must be measured and implemented with the human person at the centre of all decisions", said Archbishop Migliore speaking English. While noting that aid has increased over recent years, he pointed out that "questions remain: how many people do not have access to even basic healthcare and how many lack decent employment to provide a living wage for themselves and their families?"

"National governments need the co-operation of the international community in order to accelerate economic and human development. ... The recent financial crisis demonstrates that when political will is combined with concern for the common good we are able to generate, within months, substantial funds for financial markets".

The archbishop went on: "Renewed attention must be given to ensuring more just and equitable trade systems. ... Trade-distorting subsides, financial speculation, increased energy prices and decreased investment in agriculture have recently given rise to lack of access to the very thing which is necessary for life, namely food. This economic volatility, which strikes at the heart of human existence, gives greater urgency to finding a common commitment to addressing global trade and development".

The Holy See permanent observer to the U.N. concluded his remarks by noting that "uncertainty and anxiety seem to prevail at this particular point in time. However, the virtues and principles which have led the global community out of so many crises remain; that of solidarity with our global community, just and equitable sharing in resources and opportunity, prudent use of the environment, restraint from seeking short-term financial and social gain at the expense of sustainable development, and finally, the political courage which is necessary to build a world in which human life is placed at the centre of all social and economic activities".


Saturday, November 29, 2008

MONDAY MORNING MISSION MEDITATION for week of November 30, 2008

Providing Help. Creating Hope.

VISION: Believing in the presence of God in our midst, we proclaim the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person by sharing in the mission of Jesus given to the Church. To this end, Catholic Charities works with individuals, families, and communities to help them meet their needs, address their issues, eliminate oppression, and build a just and compassionate society.

MISSION: To provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire Church and other people of good will to do the same.

GOALS: Catholic Charities is devoted to helping meet basic human needs, strengthening families, building communities and empowering low-income people. Committed to work to reduce poverty in half by 2020.

KEY VALUE: Hospitality

WHAT WE DO: Organizing Love. "As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community" (Deus Caritas Est, par. 20)

On Sunday (First Sunday of Advent) we read in Mark's gospel about the need to be ever vigilant, and "watch" for the Lord, since we do not know the exact hour of his coming. But we have hope that the Kingdom of God is among us now and in the future. We are assured in the First Reading from Isaiah that we have a compassionate and loving God, who is Father to us all.

Advent is a time of waiting, watching, hoping. At Catholic Charities, we are called to spend time with persons and families who are in need of hope. Sometimes just waiting with someone and listening to them gives a person the extra strength he/she needs to get through a crisis. Thank you for all that you do.

Some important date(s) this week:


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3. St. Francis Xavier. Nobleman from the Basque reqion. Studied and taught philosophy at the University of Paris, and planned a career as a professor. Friend of Saint Ignatius of Loyola who convinced him to use his talents to spread the Gospel. One of the founding Jesuits, and the first Jesuit missionary. Priest. In Goa, India, while waiting to take ship, he preached in the street, worked with the sick, and taught children their catechism. He would walk through the streets ringing a bell to call the children to their studies. Said to have converted the entire city. He scolded his patron, King John of Portugal, over the slave trade.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5. Saint Christina of Markgate Anglo-Saxon nobility, the daughter of Autti, a rich and influential guild merchant. At age 15 she visited Saint Albans abbey where she made a private vow of celibacy. Her parents opposed her vow, and arranged a marriage for her with a man named Berktred. Christina took her case to Bishop Robert Bloet who initially sided with her, but who was later bribed into changing his ruling. Christina was betrothed and married against her will, spending the first years of married life as a prisoner, refusing to consummate the union. With the help of ahermit named Eadwin, she escaped, and fled to Flamstead where she lived for two years with an anchoress named Alfwen.


That in the face of a spreading of a culture of violence and death the Church through her apostolic and missionary activity may promote with courage the culture of life.
That especially in mission countries Christians may show with acts of fraternal love that the Child born in the stable at Bethlehem is the luminous Hope of the world.

Corporal Works of Mercy: The seven practices of charity toward our neighbor

1. Feed the hungry
2. Give drink to the thirsty
3. Clothe the naked
4. Shelter the homeless
5. Visit the sick
6. Visit those in prison
7. Bury the dead

See our website at for links to the our ministries and services.

For more information on Catholic Social Doctrine and its connection to our ministries, visit my blog at:

Holy See: Human Needs Lost in Fight Against Hunger

Emphasizes Importance of Agriculture in Development

ROME, NOV. 28, 2008 ( ).- In the fight against hunger, human needs are not always ranked first, and the results are negative, says a Holy See representative.

Monsignor Renato Volante, permanent observer of the Holy See at the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), affirmed this at the group's 35th special session, held last week.

The priest affirmed that the address from his delegation "does not want to offer technical solutions, but rather to suggest an ideal orientation which may help in making concrete choices, focusing on the needs of each human person, especially when they are limited by conditions of life which compromise a dignified human life."

The FAO, he noted, is more and more called on to respond to the needs of states that have a growing lack of food.

These needs, the monsignor said, "are determined by a more general economically unfavorable situation, by natural conditions, but also by human interventions which often pursue partial interests or even show signs of indifference toward the fight against malnutrition."

Nevertheless, Monsignor Volante continued, the FAO faces more than just this problem.

He said that it is clear that "there are 'new' situations involving the agricultural sector. [...]. Among these, as underlined by the recent food crisis, the judgment about the central role of agriculture seems to stand out with a particular emphasis in the wider reality of economic activity and its important contribution to a realistic, sustainable development."

To make the FAO more effective, the monsignor contended, "it is necessary to recognize that fighting against hunger is conditioned by multiple factors and by the motives inspiring it. But too often strategies are adopted which pursue particular goals rather then a holistic vision which ranks the human needs first. Such an attitude produces negative effects in the rural sector, especially where poverty, underdevelopment, malnutrition and environmental degradation are more evident."

Thus, he said, the Holy See is "firmly convinced that the FAO structure and its activities must underline the essential importance of agriculture in the development processes, not promoting the mere management but those far-sighted management criteria and interventions which will really respond to the needs."

In the future

Monsignor Volante suggested that the future of the "rural world" will contain two main aspects: "First, the protection of the different agricultural ecosystems which are conditioned by climatic change causing floods or desertification even in areas that had never known such phenomena before.

"Second, the growing role of new processing techniques and the support that they receive both in their production process and in the food trade and use."

These situations are well-understood, the Holy See representative contended, and remedies for problems are known, but "the rush toward more immediate objectives causes a postponement of their feasibility, which should start from those possible and urgent recovering interventions in consumption standards and in the respect for creation."

A reform of the FAO "does not mean to be closed to new and perhaps better results made possible by scientific and technological research and new production systems," he clarified, "but what it does propose is an ordered balance between those systems and a proper prevention of the risks for people and the ecosystems."

"This means that an ordered research aimed at improving agricultural production so as to meet the growing food demand, must not forget the reasons of food security which is the consumers' health, nor crop sustainability, i.e. the environmental protection," he said.

Monsignor Volante concluded by urging the FAO to "further effort to cope with problems by paying proper attention to the needs of the least, in our case of those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition and more generally those who draw their living, employment and income from rural work."

Vatican: Financial Crisis Worsening

Holy See Warns of Financial Crisis Worsening
Says Human Person Needs to Be at Center of Solution

NEW YORK, NOV. 28, 2008 ( ).- The worldwide financial crisis will become a catastrophe if the dignity of the human person is not protected, the Holy See is cautioning.

This is the warning sounded by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, a day before the Doha conference on progress in international cooperation in development.

The conference begins Saturday and runs through Dec. 2.

"For some time now, we've found ourselves in the middle of a financial crisis that could become a catastrophe if it is allowed to affect other crises: economy, food, energy," the archbishop told Vatican Radio. "It seems that a decided return of the public sector to financial markets is necessary. It is necessary to increase coordination and unity in the search for solutions.

"It is necessary to recover some basic dimensions of finances, that is, the primacy of labor over capital, of human relationships over mere financial transactions, of ethics over the sole criterion of efficacy."

The Holy See representative recalled that "experts tell us that in this situation it would be highly counterproductive to raise up new barriers, as much for the interchange of goods and services, as for investments. Every protectionist measure of this kind could increase the tension of the current economic situation."

Above all, Archbishop Migliore affirmed, "criteria more in line with the human person" need to be adopted.

That is why, he concluded, the problem is ethical: "There were already many rules and ethical codes before the crisis; the problem is that great impunity was given to those who didn't respect them.

"It is also a problem of leadership, of governments' moral authority at all levels, which have the primary responsibility of protecting citizens, above all workers, those who save, normal people who do not have the possibilities of following the complicated financial engineering and who have to be defended against the tricks and abuse of the smart alecks."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Vatican Statement on Doha Meeting and International Financial Crisis

ZE08112601 - 2008-11-26

"A New Pact to Re-establish the International Financial System"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2008 ( Here is a translation of the document prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and approved by the Vatican secretariat of state on the causes and consequences of the world financial crisis.

The text was released ahead of the U.N. meeting to be held in Doha from Saturday to Dec. 2, and in the wake of the Nov. 15 meeting of rich nations in Washington. The Doha conference, set to consider progress on the goals set by the Monterrey Consensus, is seen as endangered by the world's economic situation.

* * *

A New Pact to Re-establish the International Financial System

The present Note, elaborated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and approved by the State Secretariat, intends to offer some points of reflection on the present world financial crisis and its repercussion in the financing of development. The Holy See is aware that many of the issues pointed out here are susceptible to being addressed by very different technical means. Hence, the document is above all an effort to promote and animate Governments and the rest of economic agents to seek lasting solutions in solidarity.

Financing and Development: Importance of the Conference

1. The next international conference on "Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus," which will take place in Doha from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2, 2008, represents the end point of a process of revision, promoted by the United Nations General Assembly with the participation of civil society, of the contents and updating of the Document on Financing for Development, approved in 2002 in Monterrey -- the so-called "Monterrey Consensus." That document included six chapters on the great essential questions to finance development: the mobilization of internal resources; the flow of private capital; international trade; the issue of the external debt and last but not least important, the systemic question on the ways to give strength and coherence to the global monetary, financial and commercial system in support of development.

According to United Nations proceedings, the works of revision have led, during the first months of 2008, to outlining the sketch of a new document (the "Doha Draft Outcome Document"), which has been discussed and amended little by little, in order to be able to close the Doha Conference with a text that includes the consensus of all the participants.

In recent months, superimposed on this laborious negotiating process is the precipitation of the global financial crisis that was generated in subprime mortgage loans in the United States. Despite its long gestation, at the beginning of September the crisis spread to the point of affecting other sectors of the financial system and putting into difficulty a growing number of countries, whose financial situation, in the absence of an outside crash, did not seem to present problems of sustainability.

Hence, to the rise of agricultural and energy prices, which took place in the first months of 2008, has been added a financial crisis that is dramatic in certain aspects, with very negative consequences: above all, the subject of financing of development runs the risk of being relegated to second place.

2. In this situation, it is indispensable that governments and financial institutions act to counteract the further spread of the present financial crisis: In fact, many countries have introduced decisions radically opposed to the tendency, preferred up to the recent past, of entrusting the functioning of the financial market to his capacity for self-regulation.

Essentially, the governments of the countries affected by the crisis have adopted a variety of dispositions that entail a massive return of the public sector in the financial markets themselves which, in recent decades, had been deregularized, privatized and liberalized.

Given that a policy action of this nature has probabilities of success if the countries do not proceed in a dispersed manner, but coordinate their initiatives, an urgent summit of the great countries was called on Nov. 15, the so-called G-20, with the participation of significant emerging countries. Given the moment in which the G-20 took place two weeks before the Doha Conference promoted by the United Nations, very many countries did not participate in the summit out of fear, not without reason, that the first event, which entailed only a restricted number of countries, but which attracted the attention of international public opinion, would deprive the Doha Conference of political impact.

As a result, there are two important and very close worldwide meetings, with a similar purpose -- finance and its crisis, finance and development -- though characterized by very different political meanings and functions. Both meetings are important.

Everyone hopes that all the countries that met in Washington on Nov. 15 will take into account the Doha Conference and favor its success. The latter, in fact, not only has the objective to arrive at a formal inter-governmental consensus on six important topics already present in the "Monterrey Consensus," but also of progressively developing a common sentiment, a shared appraisal of those identified as emerging questions in the matter of the financing of development.

If it is indispensable to address, also on the political plane, the financial emergencies that appear, it is also important to look with attention at the picture as a whole and to the links between the problems, not only from the point of view of the economically important countries, but within a perspective that tends to be global. What is urgent is not always what is most important. On the contrary, it is ever more necessary to re-order the priorities as soon as the situation has become difficult.

Undoubtedly, today's financial emergency came after a long period in which, pressured by the immediate objective to pursue results in a short time, the dimensions of finance itself have been left to one side: its "true" nature, in fact, consists in favoring the employment of the resources saved where they favor the real economy, well-being, the development of the whole of man and all men (Paul VI, "Populorum Progressio," 14). Hence, the Doha Conference is an occasion that the international community should not lose to put back in the center the most important profound questions for the common good of humanity: financing for development is one of these.

The Important Issues Addressed by the Draft Document

3. In reference to the Drat Document, it seems opportune to consider it taking into account the two faces of the present financial crisis, namely, the emergency that has originated in the markets on one hand, and the situation of chronic inadequacy of the resources destined to support development on the other: both bring to the fore an inescapable moral question.

In a moment of crisis, such as the present, is it appropriate to ask oneself questions that, if things had gone well, would have been put aside or forgotten. How have we arrived at this disastrous situation, after a decade in which speeches have multiplied on the ethics of business and finance, and in which the adoption of ethical codes has spread? Why was enough weight not given to the verification of incidents that should have led to reflection?

The answer to these questions cannot but make evident that the ethical dimension of the economy and finance is not something that is accessory, but essential and must be constantly taken into consideration and really make a difference if there is a desire to carry out correct, long-term economic and financial dynamics fruitful in progress.

In this perspective, the Social Doctrine of the Church, with the rich variety of its moral principles, can and must make a contribution of realism and hope both to the questions discussed today, such as the financial crisis, or questions that, though being of vital importance for a large part of the world, do not receive the attention they deserve. There is the need for a new pact to refound the international financial system; the question of offshore financial centers and the nexus between financing for development and taxation; the financial market and norms; the role of civil society in the financing of development.

A New International Financial Pact

3. The present financial crisis is essentially a crisis of confidence. Acknowledged today among the causes of the crisis is both the excessive use of financial "swindles" on the part of operators, or the inadequate consideration of the risk elements that they entail. Acknowledged above all is the relation between the need for finance to fulfill its "real" function of bridge between the present and future, and the operators' temporal horizon of reference, essentially reduced at present. In other words, the global financial crisis has made reflection and action urgent on point 6 of the Draft Document, namely, on the questions of system.

Are we faced with the need for a simple revision or a true and proper re-establishment of the system of international economic and financial institutions? Many individuals, public and private, national and international, are calling for a sort of Bretton Woods. Beyond the expression used, the crisis has undoubtedly brought to the fore the urgency to find new ways of international coordination in monetary, financial and commercial matters.

It seems clear today that national sovereignty is insufficient, even the great countries are conscious of the fact that it is not possible to achieve national objectives counting only on internal policies: agreements, rules and international institutions are absolutely necessary. It is necessary to avoid the start of the chain of reciprocal protectionism; rather, practices of cooperation must be reinforced in the matter of transparency and vigilance of the financial system. It is even possible to reach solutions of "shared sovereignty," as the history of European integration demonstrates, beginning with concrete problems, within a vision of peace and prosperity, rooted in shared values.

Also in the re-designing of international policies and institutions a moral question of great importance arises. In particular, it is important that even the necessary political contrast between the "richer" countries not lead to solutions based on exclusive agreements, but that it re-launch a space of open and tendentially inclusive cooperation. This space is especially important in the matter of financing for development.

The financial flows that connect the developed countries with low-income countries present at least two paradoxical elements, the first is represented by the fact that in the global system, it is the poor countries that finance the rich ones, which receive resources from either the flight of private capital or governmental decisions to corner financial reserves under the form of "secure" financial activities placed in the financially evolved markets or in offshore markets. The second paradox is that the remittances of emigrants -- namely, of the less "liberalized" component of the processes of globalization -- entail an affluence of resources that, at the macro level, greatly surpass the flow of public aid for development. It is as though saying that the poor of the South finance the rich of the North, and the poor of the South themselves have to emigrate and work in the North to support their families in the South.

Offshore Financial Centers

3.b. To carry out this new international financial pact, the first necessary step is to consider carefully the role, hidden but crucial, of the offshore financial system in the two faces of the global financial problem described above: the emergency of the global crisis and the inadequacy of finances for development.

Offshore markets have been an important link, both in the transmission of the present financial crisis, as well has in maintaining a host of mad economic and financial practices: flight of capital of gigantic proportions, "legal" flows motivated by objectives of tax evasion and also channeled through the of international commercial flows, re-cycling of those stemming from illegal activities. Estimates of the amount of wealth held in offshore centers are difficult to evaluate, but sufficiently impressive if the information in circulation is confirmed: it is said that an ample gamut of groups and individuals hold financial applications in offshore centers that could yield close to US$255,000: more than three times the entire amount of public aid for development on the part of countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OSCE).

Given that public financing for development can only come from fiscal detractions, this becomes a critical minimum in the age of globalization. In fact, the processes of globalization have changed the type of composition of the transaction, not only from direct to indirect (with the probable consequence of a lesser "progressivity" of taxes, namely, of a lesser capacity of weighing more percentage-wise over those that dispose of higher incomes), but above all have entailed a translation of the valuation of the capital to the valuation of the work.

Fiscal detraction is eroded over the most important and mobile business activities in the international field, or that can easily take recourse to the offshore centers. Valued instead primarily are the less "mobile" productive factors, which cannot easily escape from the tax burden, namely, of workers and small businesses.

These points are very complex politically. To address them means to act directly in the sphere of national fiscal sovereignty. The Draft Document speaks of this and, in point 10, proposes reinforcing international cooperation in fiscal matters, above all in view of a drastic redimension of offshore financial practices.

Regulation of the Financial Market

3.c. The present crisis came to a head in a context of taking decisions in which the temporal horizon of financial operators was extremely brief and in which trust -- essential ingredient of credit -- was placed more in the market's mechanisms than in relations between members. It is no accident that trust has decreased in the exchange that was "secure" above all, namely, inter-bank transactions; however, without this trust all is blocked, including the possibility of the normal functioning of productive enterprises. The financial crisis and its consequences has, in fact, as component the expectation that the financial climate will worsen. All this leads operators to behave in a way that makes more probable the effective worsening of the situation with a foreseeable cumulative effect. The crisis has brought about the fall of fideist confidence in the market, understood as a mechanism capable of self-regulation and of generating development for all.

The present situation is an emergency, because important questions have been avoided: the traceability of financial movements, the proper rendering of accounts of operations in the new financial instruments, the careful appraisal of risk. Many authorities, especially in the more financially evolved countries, have proposed specific choices, moved by the economic profits that derive from housing a strong financial industry, profits that last as long as the phase of financial euphoria.

International financial institutions themselves are not endowed with the mandate and the instruments necessary to answer these questions decisively. In general it was thought that the market was enough to give the correct price to risk.

Financial markets cannot operate without trust; and without transparency and without rules there can be no trust. Hence, the market's good functioning requires an important role of the State and, where appropriate, of the international community to establish the rules of transparency and prudence and have them respected. It must be recalled, however, that no interervention of regulation can "guarantee" its efficacy by dispensing with a well-formed moral conscience and the daily responsibility of the market's operators, especially of the businessmen and the large financial operators.

Today's rules, based on yesterday's experience, do not necessarily prevent tomorrow's risks. Thus, even if good structures and good rules exist that help, it is necessary to recall that they are not enough in themselves. Man can never be changed or redeemed simply from the outside.

It is necessary to reach the most profound moral being of people, a real education in the exercise of responsibility towards the good of all, on the part of all individuals, at all levels: financial operators, families, businesses, financial institutions, public authorities, civil society.

This education to responsibility can find a solid foundation in some principles indicated by the Social Doctrine, which are the patrimony of all and the basis of all social life: the universal common good , the universal destiny of goods, the priority of work over capital.

Deep down, the financial crisis is the result of a daily practice that had as its point of reference the absolute "priority of capital" in relation to work -- even of work alienated from the financial operators themselves (very long and stressful working hours, very short temporal horizon of reference for decisions). It is also the result of an erroneous practice of giving loans to those who seem "too big to fail" rather than to those who take the risk of creating real occasions for development.

Role of Civil Society in Financing for Development

3.d. Financing for development requires questioning public aid for development or the role of other actors: individuals, businesses, organizations. In particular, civil society not only carries out an important active role in cooperation for development, but also plays a significant role in financing for development. It does so, above all, through the voluntary contribution of person to person, as the remittances of immigrants, or through relatively simple organizational ways (think of adoption at a distance). Then there are the resources for development mobilized by enterprises in the active exercise of their own social responsibility; and those at times too conspicuous, provided by important Foundations.

Responsible behavior in the matter of consumption and investment is also an important resource for development. The spread of this responsible behavior, from the point of view of the material effects, can make the difference between the functioning of certain particular markets, but their importance lies above all in the fact that they express a concrete participation on the part of persons -- in so far as consumers, investors of family savings or decisive for business strategies -- to the possibility that the poorest emerge from their condition of poverty.

Financial Crisis and Public Aid for Development

4. Concern over the financial emergency that has taken place in mature markets effectively can obfuscate the need for financing development. It is reasonable to think that public aid for development, which comes from allocations of the budget that each country establishes year after year, will suffer because of the great public resources necessary to cover the emergency of the financial crisis. Undoubtedly, this is an evil. Adequate financing for development requires a long-term horizon: it is necessary that the resources flow in a foreseeable manner, in favorable conditions, to finance works that perhaps require much time before producing benefits for the local population.

However, the financial emergency linked to the brief period and the "normality" of long-tern financing are closely connected, both in the negative but also in the positive sense: there is the possibility, which must be sought for tenaciously, to contribute to a sustainable way out of the financial crisis, also establishing the conditions so that the savings generated are truly dedicated to development, namely, to the creation of occasions of work. Suffice to think of the many existing unsatisfied needs, especially in low-income countries: those needs are the other face of the occasions of work that it is possible, and hence obligatory, to create.

To give other elements that can support the reasonableness of this "royal" way to come out of the financial crisis, we might recall that the three crises of 2008 -- the food crisis, the energy crisis and the financial crisis -- are closely united among themselves. The expectation of the increasing prices of agricultural and energy products (in a certain sense, a physiological expectation, if we think of the greater demand for food and fuel in countries such as China and India) has produced a race for supply and the purchase of "futures," namely, of promises of future provision at a certain price. This behavior has fueled in turn a rise in prices which has attracted not only the future users of the primary products, but also the financial operators that, from a purely speculative point of view, have betted on the possibility of a further rise in prices.

Now, such risky behavior tends to flourish without control when there is in the financial markets much -- too much -- availability of credit. It is no accident that the present financial crisis, which is manifested above all in the extreme difficulty to obtain credit, brought with it a fall in the prices of primary products, and above all of oil. It is understood that, if it is necessary to address the problems "one by one," it is dangerous to do so without looking with lucidity at the total picture and the connections among the problems themselves. The financial crisis will probably "take away" resources from public aid to development. However, only by allocating resources -- public but also private -- for "real" development will a healthy financial system be able to be reconstructed, capable of really producing, because the resources have really sustained work and the economy.

Current Direct Investments in Poor Countries

5. In general, the greater part of direct foreign investments continues to affect advanced countries, both as origin and destiny, though in recent years two decidedly new phenomena have been observed. The first is the affirmation of direct foreign investments arising from "emerging" countries, often motivated by the objective to reinforce the presence of the research enterprise in its own macro-region -- hence, they are South-South investments, destined to countries of middle and low income. The second has to do with the significant growth of transcontinental investment flows destined to certain low-income countries, generally endowed with important mining and energy resources; some of these are made from so-called "sovereign funds," hence, they present double the value of economic investment and an important socio-political link.

The object of the second chapter of the Draft Document is how to proceed to increase direct foreign investments. Very opportunely it underlines that it is necessary also to consider carefully the qualitative aspects of investment. Necessary, in fact, is caution before interpreting the flows of capital to countries as an unequivocal positive sign and, consequently, simply increase the amount. In many cases, it is a question effectively of important occasions of economic growth and social development; in others, it is not so. There are, in fact, investments that entail the implication and formation of local workers, the transference of technology, the spread of responsible management practices, but there are also investments that are limited to assessing the mineral resources for the benefit of a few -- of the local political or economic elite --in addition, of course, to the foreign investor.

Financial Cooperation for Development

6. In the wake of the Monterrey Conference, some significant steps forward have been taken, in the direction indicated by the "Monterrey Consensus." In "Action Against Hunger and Poverty," promoted initially by some developed and developing countries and subsequently made its own by many other States, different possible innovative sources of financing have been identified: a shared tax on air tariffs; reduction of tax evasion made possible by the existence of tax havens; the mobilization of immigrants' remittances for the local development of countries of destiny with initiatives, for example, of micro-credit; taxing of and/or arms trade; the creation of innovative loan instruments such as the International Financial Facility; the emission by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of special rights; the voluntary contribution associated with the use of credit cards; financial investment in "ethical funds"; collections through shared lotteries.

Some of these proposals have been carried out partially. It is the case of the pilot project of the shared tax on air tariffs, already in execution in some States and destined to a fund for the purchase of drugs against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, managed directly by the World Health Organization (WHO). Also in 2006, the proposal to create an International Financial Facility, was translated in the activation of Iffi (Iff for immunization) to which a certain number of countries have adhered. Essentially, it was a question of the emission of international public titles which have been placed in the financial markets and have made it possible to gather private resources for financing programs of vaccination. The countries that have issued the titles are responsible for interest surcharges and for the future restitution of the funds received, reciprocally determined to provide resources for development. This determination is effectively credible, in so far as its eventual diminution would expose countries to a loss of reputation in the international financial markets on which they depend for financing of the imbalances in their accounts. All these initiatives have in common the fact of disconnecting the gathering of financial resources for development through taxes, from the public budget decisions of each country.

7. However, despite the progress, financial cooperation for development continues to be a problem. Moreover, many other ambits of action included in the "Monterrey Consensus" have not seen progress; this is true above all when it comes to questions of system and, in particular, of the coherence of international economic policies. Think for example, of the nexus between the aid for development policies and the commercial policies of advanced countries: the different forms of manifest or hidden protectionism, as well as the persistent limitations to access to the exports of poor countries in the markets of rich countries, are an enormous obstacle to development. National policies continue to be strongly inconsistent: one hand gives the other takes away.

One last but important caution: It is necessary to be careful not to confuse the means (the financial resources) and the end, namely, development. It is not enough to predispose an adequate amount of financing to think of obtaining development in a mechanical way. The latter is not so much the "result" that will be seen at the end, but the way that day after day is traced by the concrete choices of multiple actors: Donor and recipient governments, NGOs, local communities. In regard to public aid for development -- the main object of the Doha Conference, which will imply in the first place the States -- it must be recalled that the international community has recently addressed, in the Accra Conference, the question of aid effectiveness.

Today the preponderant tendency is that of considering the channel "from State to State," the so-called "budget support," as the most effective way to have the resources arrive in low-income countries. This tendency is seen with certain concern, because it carries with it the risk of a "bureaucratization" of national policies to combat poverty and to re-dimension the resources available through different forms of local social initiative, both on the part of organizations of the civil society, as well as on the part of local realities rooted in the territory such as faith-based organizations. "However, these realities are the real protagonists of development understood as the course followed day by day.

Africa and Financing for Development

8. Particular attention is necessary to the African continent, in which the map of development registers hefty disparities. The situation is different in each African country; what is more, noted is a tendency to polarization between successful situations when obtaining resources and making them fruitful, and situations of total marginality. For example, only few African countries attract direct foreign investments not solely interested in exploiting the mineral or energy resources. It depends a lot on the internal situation of each country; in terms of the "Monterrey Consensus": by the capacity to mobilize internal resources and to combat the flight of capital, tax evasion and corruption.

Moreover, it is obvious that in situations of armed conflict -- numerous, unfortunately, in Africa -- the economic dimension of development simply becomes un-proposable.

In so far as canceling of the external debt, there has been progress; however, the resources for the cancellation of the debt rarely have been additional in relation to the flows of aid and this has entailed effects of recomposition of the public budgets without a real increase of available resources for action to combat poverty.

Two points should be opportunely underlined. One has to do with the choices in international policy of African governments; support must be given to the growing will for South-South international cooperation, in a continent where to acquire a certain custom of international cooperation might contribute to channel preventively the conflicts in a space of bloodless negotiation. The second has to do with the choices in internal policy, in subsidiary material, which appreciates and reinforces the ways of response to the needs of the African society born "from within," which society has a great patrimony of shared culture able to express itself with extraordinary testimonial force.

The experience of international cooperation for development is today sufficiently ample to permit concluding that the policies and resources "coming from on high" can produce immediate beneficial effects, but on their own they do not provide adequate answers to how to emerge, in a sustainable way, from poverty. The principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, so cherished by the Social Doctrine of the Church, can inspire a genuine development in the sign of an integral and shared humanism.

Vatican, Nov. 18, 2008