Poverty Is Not Question of Statistics, Vatican Says at U.N.

Archbishop Martino Focuses on Sustainable Development

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NEW YORK, OCT. 15, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Poverty is not a question of numbers, but a matter of individuals, so man must be at the center of concern for sustainable development, a Vatican aide told the United Nations.

Archbishop Renato Martino, the Vatican´s permanent observer at the United Nations, made that appeal Friday when he addressed the General Assembly on «The First United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty.»

The Vatican aide said that although the latest statistics show a decrease in the number of people who live in abject poverty, in fact the real number of such people has not decreased.

According to Archbishop Martino, man must be the key concern of every U.N. conference.

«Is this not the raison d´être of the United Nations?» the archbishop asked. «If, when we discuss the eradication of poverty, we are not discussing the well-being of each and every human person, our discussions are empty words.»

Given the international community´s steps in the struggle against poverty, and the undeniable failures, Archbishop Martino added his approval to the decision of the Commission for Social Development to examine all progress made during the first U.N. decade for the eradication of poverty.

He requested, however, that this examination be carried out keeping in mind the totality of the human factors involved.

«Speaking of economic development, social development and environmental protection no longer seems to be sufficient in the light of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other diseases that continue to take their devastating toll; armed conflicts; the great numbers of refugees and displaced persons; and the inability to close the gaps in the provision of basic social services,» he emphasized.

«Finding answers and solutions will be difficult, but as long as governments and peoples are willing to continue the discussion and the search for a true and sustainable means for the eradication of poverty, the Holy See will support the work, share in the debate, and support the outcomes,» Archbishop Martino concluded.

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