Porto Alegre Forum "Must Find Solutions, Not Problems"

Statements of Brazilian City´s Archbishop

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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil, FEB. 1, 2002 (ZENIT.orgFides).- At the inauguration of the 2nd World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the city´s archbishop said that it is important to find solutions, and not create problems.

The meeting, which will end Feb. 5, has gathered some 50,000 people who are identified with the anti-globalization movement.

The forum is known as «anti-Davos,» a reference to the meeting of world economic leaders, which is in turned named after the Swiss mountain resort where they meet. This year, the Davos meeting will be held in New York, and will gather political leaders, professors and businessmen.

Catholic Archbishop Dadeus Grings of Porto Alegre is both concerned and optimistic. He told the Vatican agency Fides that «the forum … is more than the ´no-global´ movement. The forum must find solutions, not problems.»

For the organizers, the forum slogan, «The World Can Be a Different Place,» reflects the concerns of humanity that emerged in recent months, including the protests at the G8 summit in Genoa last summer, the crisis in Argentina, and the unrest in the Middle East. Forum topics range from genetic food to conferences on socialism as «the alternative of hope.»

The forum has 20,000 member delegations including trade unions, universities and nongovernmental organizations. The official program includes protest activities.

A Baby World Forum, complete with theater, circus and shows, will be arranged for about 2,000 children. Valeria Viana, in charge of the Baby Forum, says, «If we think of a new world for the future, children cannot be left out.»

Archbishop Dadeus Grings sent a message to prepare his people for the event. «The forum aims to find solutions to present day problems. It should be given our support,» he said.

But he warned against prejudices or resentments. «The Church presents her social teaching as a valid contribution in the search for new perspectives for our day,» the archbishop´s message said. «The Church puts the person at the center of attention and sees the subsidiarity principle as the key for solving social problems.»

The archbishop added: «Human life cannot be reduced to the economic and social levels. The human being has an inalienable personal dignity, and cannot be reduced to a cogwheel in the mechanism of society.»

The Catholic Church in Brazil is represented in the forum by 10 delegates from the national bishops´ conference. Official interventions are scheduled on social and economic problems, interreligious dialogue, and the role of religions in promoting peace.

Caritas Brazil is present with 18 representatives, who will address three main topics: an economy of solidarity with the people, foreign debt and social policies. Caritas Sao Paulo will present its «Refuse Luxury» project involving the poor to collect and recycle paper, glass and other items.

The personalities expected to will attend the forum includes Nobel Peace Prize laureates Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina and Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala; human rights activist Dita Sari of Indonesia; writer José Saramago of Portugal; professor Noam Chomsky of the United States; and journalist and activist Tariq Ali of Pakistan.

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