Pope Francis renews plea to help the world's poor
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/11/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Pope Francis called for governments to do their part to aid the poor by redistributing wealth in a spirit of generosity. Pope Francis made the plea on Friday during a speech to U.N. Secretary General Ban Kai Moon.
Pope Francis addressed UN Secretary General Ban Kai Moon at the Vatican today.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On Friday, Pope Francis called for the United Nations to perform a "worldwide ethical mobilization" that would address the plight of the poor. Pope Francis has frequently criticized the abuses of capitalism where a greedy few view men as made for the market as opposed to the market being made for man.
Several previous popes have made similar pleas, particularly in capitalist economies where wealth flourishes, but tends to pool amongst a privileged few.
None of this is to say that other forms of government or economic systems have their ills, for each one has peculiar flaws, however Pope Francis stressed the role governments should play in reducing poverty and hunger.
Pope Francis used the word "redistribution" in his speech, however he was not referring to the communist interpretation of the word where the rich are punitively soaked to finance the poor. Instead, Pope Francis was speaking of a fair redistribution where the wealthy recognize that they enjoy wealth produced by the labor of the poor, and those who labor and those in need should enjoy a reasonable share of that wealth.
He also spoke about how important it was to address the roots of poverty and hunger which includes caring for the environment and respecting labor and the dignity of the human person.
"Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustices and resisting the economy of exclusion, the throwaway culture and the culture of death which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted," he said.
Pope Francis delivered his remarks from the Vatican, which some see as a return salvo at the U.N., which has been scourging the Church for its handling of the worldwide sexual abuse of children by priests. Pope Francis has conceded that the issue has been mishandled in the past, that shame is justified and the Church must make restitution while also taking steps to ensure such horrors are never repeated.
However, it must be remembered that despite this shortcoming of the past, it is the Catholic Church, not the United Nations that speaks with the highest moral authority on the planet.
Now that authority is calling upon governments and nations, including individual citizens, to do what it can to end poverty.
The end of poverty is in sight. Most people assume that poverty is an eternal fixture of life in the world, indicating that the world has never witnessed a time when absolute poverty did not exist. It should be noted that the issue of greatest concern is that of absolute poverty, not relative poverty. Under absolute poverty, people lack the bare essentials for healthy, long-term survival and productivity.
Yet, the world is very close to the eradication of absolute poverty. In the past 30 years alone, advances in technology and the efforts of governments down to individual citizens have actually reduced the percentage of people living in absolute poverty from 52 percent to 21 percent, according to the World Bank.
Earlier this year, an independent study commissioned by the UN predicted that global hunger could be eradicated by 2025. And late last year, Pope Francis called all Catholics to do their part to eradicate world hunger by 2025 by donating food to the poor.
To show that such a thing is finally possible, Americans should consider the past century of American history. Until the 1940s, Americans could fall through the cracks of a poorly managed economic system and literally starve to death. Yet today, virtually every American enjoys a standard of living that is among the highest in the world. Even the "poor" in America are poor by relative measures, and not in absolute measures. This means that the average poor person in America has a roof, basic medical care, food, and access to a variety of other life-sustaining good and services as well as opportunities.
This isn't to say that the United States has no poor people, or that their condition of relative poverty, which is actually quite serious, shouldn't be addressed. Instead, this proves that absolute poverty can be eradicated. If it can be eradicate din the United States and across Western Europe, then it can also be eradicated in the rest of the world too.
With leadership and direction, such as that provided by Pope Francis, the world can eradicate absolute poverty by 2025. However, people and governments must listen and they must act. Otherwise, the world will backslide and our goals will not be met.
Governments have a responsibility, as do individuals.
The Pope's letter, addressed to the United Nations and delivered in conjunction with his speech follows, as well as his speech.
(Vatican Radio ) Pope Francis met with executives from the United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes on Friday, led by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Emer McCarthy reports: RealAudioMP3
Speaking to the men and women who manage the UN's vast network of humanitarian offices, he urged them to challenge "all forms of injustice" and resist the "economy of exclusion", the "throwaway culture" and the "culture of death" which nowadays - he said - "sadly risk becoming passively accepted".
Reflecting on the UN's target for Future Sustainable Development Goals, he questioned whether in today's world, a spirit of solidarity and sharing guide all our thoughts and actions:
"Future Sustainable Development Goals must therefore be formulated and carried out with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labor for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development".
The Pope also pointed the executives to the Gospel story of Zacchaeus the Tax collector, as an example of how it's never too late to correct injustice
"Today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God's providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others".
Below please find the full text of Pope Francis' address to the UN delegation
Mr Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you, Mr Secretary-General and the leading executive officers of the Agencies, Funds and Programmes of the United Nations and specialized Organizations, as you gather in Rome for the biannual meeting for strategic coordination of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board.
It is significant that today's meeting takes place shortly after the solemn canonization of my predecessors, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. The new saints inspire us by their passionate concern for integral human development and for understanding between peoples. This concern was concretely expressed by the numeous visits of John Paul II to the Organizations headquartered in Rome and by his travels to New York, Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi and The Hague.
I thank you, Mr Secretary-General, for your cordial words of introduction. I thank all of you, who are primarily responsible for the international system, for the great efforts being made to ensure world peace, respect for human dignity, the protection of persons, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and harmonious economic and social development.
The results of the Millennium Development Goals, especially in terms of education and the decrease in extreme poverty, confirm the value of the work of coordination carried out by this Chief Executives Board. At the same time, it must be kept in mind that the world's peoples deserve and expect even greater results.
An essential principle of management is the refusal to be satisfied with current results and to press forward, in the conviction that those gains are only consolidated by working to achieve even more. In the case of global political and economic organization, much more needs to be achieved, since an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact relegated to the status of second-class citizens. Future Sustainable Development Goals must therefore be formulated and carried out with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labor for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development. Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the "economy of exclusion", the "throwaway culture" and the "culture of death" which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.
With this in mind, I would like to remind you, as representatives of the chief agencies of global cooperation, of an incident which took place two thousand years ago and is recounted in the Gospel of Saint Luke (19:1-10). It is the encounter between Jesus Christ and the rich tax collector Zacchaeus, as a result of which Zacchaeus made a radical decision of sharing and justice, because his conscience had been awakened by the gaze of Jesus. This same spirit should be at the beginning and end of all political and economic activity. The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off, left behind, ought to awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions with immediate results, like the decision of Zacchaeus. Does this spirit of solidarity and sharing guide all our thoughts and actions?
Today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God's providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others.
The account of Jesus and Zacchaeus teaches us that above and beyond economic and social systems and theories, there will always be a need to promote generous, effective and practical openness to the needs of others. Jesus does not ask Zacchaeus to change jobs nor does he condemn his financial activity; he simply inspires him to put everything, freely yet immediately and indisputably, at the service of others. Consequently, I do not hesitate to state, as did my predecessors (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 42-43; Centesimus Annus, 43; BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 6; 24-40), that equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level. A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world's peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.
Consequently, while encouraging you in your continuing efforts to coordinate the activity of the international agencies, which represents a service to all humanity, I urge you to work together in promoting a true, worldwide ethical mobilization which, beyond all differences of religious or political convictions, will spread and put into practice a shared ideal of fraternity and solidarity, especially with regard to the poorest and those most excluded.
Invoking divine guidance on the work of your Board, I also implore God's special blessing for you, Mr Secretary-General, for the Presidents, Directors and Secretaries General present among us, and for all the personnel of the United Nations and the other international Agencies and Bodies, and their respective families.
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