Cardinal Sodano Says G-8 Summit Won´t Be a Cure-all

But Pope Hopes for «New Initiative» to Favor the Poorest

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ROME, JULY 19, 2001 ( On the eve of the G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy, the Vatican´s secretary of state cautioned that the event won´t be a panacea for the world´s ills.

In an interview with the Catholic television network Telepace, Cardinal Angelo Sodano was asked about what the Holy Father expects from the G-8.

The cardinal replied: «The Pope has some very specific expectations: that a new initiative may arise in favor of the poorest countries. I am thinking, especially, of specific initiatives in three areas: poverty, health and the environment.»

«However, we must avoid expecting the renewal of the world from the brief meeting of heads of state,» the cardinal said. «The G-8 is not a panacea. The law of gradualism exists in the history of peoples: What is essential is to find the proper way and then to go forward on it.»

As regards proposals to cancel the debt, Cardinal Sodano explained that «the cancellation of the debt is certainly one of the ways to assist the poorest countries. There have already been initiatives in this respect.»

«I would like to mention here the noble initiative taken by Italy to cancel the debt of Zambia and Guinea,» he said. «The Italian bishops´ conference itself cooperated with the Italian government. A reserve fund has been established for development programs in these two African countries.

«Their debt is canceled but they are obliged to use the resulting funds on schools and hospitals. It is also good for the country that cancels the debt, as it encourages solidarity and mutual help among peoples.»

In regard to globalization, Cardinal Sodano specified that, «in itself, like human progress, it is neither good nor bad. It depends on the use made of it. This is the challenge today. Deep down, it is the challenge of liberties. Freedom is a gift from God that many can use for good or evil.»

The Vatican secretary of state added: «Christians are not frightened by globalization. Man´s original vocation to constitute one human family, in keeping with the Creator´s plan, can also be discovered in this phenomenon. Christianity itself is a globalizing religion.»

«In this world, already described as a global village, the Church will try to introduce the leaven of the Gospel of Christ,» he said. «The Church will try to raise the spiritual tone of humanity from within, with the means proper to it. Christians look to the heads of state and government meeting in Genoa, with this same attitude. Christians pray for them especially, so that the Lord will enlighten them. This was St. Paul´s teaching to his disciple, Timothy: ´I urge that … prayers … be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions.´»

He continued: «Christians also make efforts to cooperate with everyone for the good of humanity. Those meeting in Genoa are political men, freely chosen by their people. They are personalities who represent nations of great culture. I hope no black stain will ruin the meeting. To meet, and to get to know and to talk to one another, is part of our civilization.»

Cardinal Sodano recalled that «the great Shrine of Our Lady of Custody is in the hill that dominates Genoa. I often visited it as a child, and entrusted myself to the Virgin´s protection. In the Vatican Gardens also, there is a beautiful little chapel to Our Lady of Custody, placed virtually as Custodian of Peter´s Successor by a Genoese Pope, Benedict XV. As believers, we entrust the Genoa meeting to her, so that she will be the Mother of Good Counsel.»

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