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Poverty should outrage us, says Pope
January 22009£1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
INSIDETHIS WEEK’S ISSUE
BUILDING peace and eradicating poverty demand an overhaul of short-sighted financial policies and unjust economic and social structures, Pope Benedict XVI has said. In his annual message for the January 1 celebration of the World Day of Peace, the Pope said that “peace can be built only if everyone is assured of the possibility of reasonable growth. Sooner or later, the distortions produced by unjust systems have to be paid for by everyone.” The world of finance and commerce need global governance and a new ethical approach that can ensure that investments and development truly contribute to the common good and peace in the world, he said. The message, “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace”, was sent to heads of state around the world. The Pope said that while globalisation had brought many benefits it must be governed and “managed with great prudence”. Policies and norms must be based on a common code of ethics, he said, and actions must be guided by “the principles of fraternity and responsibility”. With natural law, God has inscribed upon every conscience a deep yearning to uphold the common good and peace in the world, he said. Closing the gap between rich and poor will only happen if people everywhere listen to their conscience and “feel personally outraged by the injustices in the world and by the concomitant vi
olations of human rights”, he said. “It is utterly foolish to build a luxury home in the midst of desert or decay.” The world of finance has lost sight of its most important function which is “to sustain the possibility of long-term investment and hence development”, he said. He added that the current economic and financial crises were the result of financial activities – on both the national and global level –that are “based upon very short-term thinking”. Financial practices that are limited to the short term become “dangerous for everyone, even for those who benefit when the markets perform well”, he said. By not taking into long-term consideration the common good investments lose their “capacity to function as a bridge between the present and the future” and to stimulate new businesses and job opportunities in the long term, said the Pope. He said economic and legal structures must work together to come up with and implement strategies to fix current shortcomings in the financial and commercial world and create incentives for more appropriate behaviour. Overcoming the scandal of poverty means addressing the institutional, material and cultural causes of poverty along with the spiritual and moral flaws that are “harboured in the human heart, like greed and narrow vision”, he said. It is not enough to skim off one’s surplus to redistribute to the poor, he said. A real change of heart, “of lifestyles, of models of
Pope Benedict says we should ‘feel personally outraged by the injustices in the world and by the concomitant violations of human rights’
production and consumption and of the established structures of power” governing communities, is urgently needed. Pope Benedict said that when people show a lack of respect for the transcendent dignity of every human person “the cruel forces of poverty are unleashed”. He criticised some major causes of poverty and economic inequality, such as immense military spending, the inadequate distribution of food resources and price speculation in food commodities. Because many have linked high birthrates to poverty, some family planning campaigns have used methods that violate the right of parents to responsibly choose how many children to have, the Pope
said. This has caused “the extermination of millions of unborn children, in the name of the fight against poverty”. The Pope noted that despite marked demographic growth the percentage of the world’s population living under the threshold of absolute poverty has been cut in half since 1981. In fact, some of the nations that have emerged today as new economic powers “have experienced rapid development specifically because of the large number of their inhabitants”, the Pope said. “Population is proving to be an asset, not a factor that contributes to poverty,” he added. Some countries afflicted by pandemic diseases like HIV/Aids
are sometimes “held hostage, when they try to address them, by those who make economic aid conditional upon the implementation of anti-life policies”. While Aids is a major cause of poverty in the world, the disease must be fought with educational campaigns and “a sexual ethic that fully corresponds to the dignity of the person”, he said. Life-saving treatment and medicines must be made available to poorer populations, which may call for the “flexible application” of international rules protecting drug patents, he said. Pope Benedict argued that people should also be concerned about forms of poverty that have nothing to do with a lack of basic
physical necessities. For example, he said, even people living in wealthy societies can experience marginalisation or “affective, moral and spiritual poverty”. Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presented the message to the press on December 11. He said the Pope’s emphasis on so-called “moral underdevelopment” and the negative consequences of “superdevelopment” referred to a rising lack of respect for the right to life as seen in the growing number of laws permitting abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia.
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Bishop Roche issues forceful call to resist push for assisted suicide
BISHOP Arthur Roche of Leeds has criticised advocates of assisted suicide for their “dark and fatalistic view on the purpose of life”, said that a right to die would become “duty to die” and spoken of his own feelings of inadequacy when faced with suffering. In a strongly worded pastoral letter read out in parishes on the feast of the Holy Family, the bishop said: “During the course of
the last few weeks, much attention has been given in the media to the question of assisted suicide. Those who are in favour of it have a dark and fatalistic view on the purpose of life and the process of dying. “This stands in stark contrast with the feast of Christmas which celebrates the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World. “The imagery that surrounds the telling of that event in the gospels is not without great significance:
the darkness of the night, the loneliness and the fear of the young couple trying to find a place of shelter and safety, their longing for understanding response from anyone at a time of need –all speak to us of the fact that, despite all those difficulties, the Hope of the World was born –He who would bring light to those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death came to live among us, to show us, by His own life, the purpose of our lives and the direction we should take.”
Bishop Roche said he was sad to listen to broadcasts of people who deliberately ended their lives, but he felt there was a sense of hopelessness and despair “instead of a realisation of how treasured every human life is in the sight of God”. It would be “a dark reality” if humans lost the respect and dignity due to the moment of natural death, he said. “With Christ and our families and our communities we shall not face it alone.”
20 - 21 MARCH 2009
Pope: be thankful for having a job
Users of iPhone have breviary at fingertips
THOSEWH o have a job this Christmastide should be thankful and should reach out to help their neighbours who are less fortunate, Pope Benedict XVI has said. “With Christmas approaching, my thoughts naturally turn to the employment crisis that is worrying all humanity today,” the Pope said on December 19 during a meeting
with officials of the Vatican’s Central Labour Office. “Those who have the possibility of working should be thankful to God and open their hearts with generosity toward those who find themselves with employment and economic difficulties,” the Pope said. Pope Benedict prayed that Jesus would watch over those suffering because of the global economic crisis and inspire new acts of solidarity among all people. Pope John Paul II established the Vatican Labour Office on January 1 1989.
USERSOF the new iBreviary application can now follow the daily prayer of the Church, using an iPhone. Since the application was made available at the beginning of December there have been 8,000 downloads. Just before Christmas the Vatican’s Council for Social Communications approved of the applica
tion, making it the first iPhone application to be approved by the Holy See. A spokesman said the application “allows the believer to pray simply via an intuitive interface”. The service is free of charge from iTunes and includes the complete Roman Missal and the main Catholic prayers. The Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI has been quick to embrace the benefits of the digital revolution.
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