Fighting Poverty to Build Peace

Pope Benedict XVI has issued his message for the upcoming World Day of Peace celebration, which is observed annually every January 1. The title and theme of his message is “Fighting Poverty To Build Peace”. Poverty has been a perennial focus of past World Day of Peace messages of the Holy See in Rome. But in his present message, the Holy Father has drawn particular attention to the modern phenomenon of globalization as a major factor in the cause –as well as potential cure – for poverty.

“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 Pope says. He appeals for a “common code of ethics” amongst nations and for a system of “global solidarity.” At its root is recognition by all men and women that “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.”

Pope Benedict discusses several areas of present-day poverty. They include “affective, moral and spiritual poverty”, which he pointed is to blame for rising campaigns around the world to control population growth utilizing anti-life methods. At the same time, he also notes that more than half of the world’s population living is poverty is comprised of children.

Another cause of poverty, he says, are pandemic diseases, which hinder or prevent people from devoting their energies towards poverty alleviation. Massive spending on military resources, he further notes, is another cause of the impoverishment of peoples, even in otherwise rich countries.

In the area of global finance and trade, the Pope said: “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.” This way, he said, poorer countries will be able to earn more from their limited economic, which is mainly agricultural, resources.

He emphatically added that “globalization ‘is notably ambivalent’ 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.”

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