Object of Development Is Human Dignity, Says Vatican

Archbishop Martino Addresses Conference in Monterrey

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MONTERREY, Mexico, MARCH 24, 2002 (ZENIT.org).- Human dignity must be the central value behind development programs, the Vatican told the U.N. International Conference on Financing Development, held here last week.

The Holy See called for programs that would make this objective the top priority.

Archbishop Renato Martino, head of the Vatican delegation to the conference, spoke Thursday. He emphasized that too «many families in today´s world are forced to be concerned with survival and do not have the luxury of participating as actors in their development.»

«Too many people are forced to migrate, too many people continue to be burdened by absolute poverty and live in countries where debt burdens make it impossible to gain access to basic social services and social safeguards,» the papal representative said.

«In this perspective, financing for development must touch all aspects of life, the individual, the family, the community and the world,» the archbishop added. «Human beings are at the center of our concerns for sustainable development.»

On Friday, the plenary session of the U.N. conference approved the final document by acclamation. Entitled «Consensus of Monterrey,» the document was written two months earlier.

Archbishop Martino stressed during his address: «Every program geared to increased production must have no other end in view than to serve the human person, namely: to lessen inequalities, to remove discrimination, to free men from the bonds of servitude, and to enable them to improve their condition in the temporal order, achieve moral development, and perfect their spiritual endowments. When we speak of development, care must be given both to social progress and economic growth.»

«It should be noted that in spite of the praiseworthy efforts made in the last two decades by the more developed or developing nations and the international organizations to find a way out of the situation, or at least to remedy some of its symptoms, the conditions have become notably worse,» the archbishop continued.

«The Holy See strongly believes that any effort in favor of development must analyze the moral ramifications of economic activity and its financing in light of a comprehensive vision of the human person,» he said.

«This is an absolutely essential interplay, a moral imperative, which has all too often been neglected in the dialogue over the ethics of economic life,» Archbishop Martino continued. «A true concern for the development of peoples cannot afford to be reductionistic, but must respect the genuine claims of both economics and morality.»

«Human dignity must be the central value for the financing of development. Such an authentic concern must prize the close relationship between the centrality of the human person and economic activity, stressing the subjective character of human work and its place in human creativity,» the Vatican representative continued.

«The moral causes of prosperity reside in a constellation of virtues: industriousness, competence, order, honesty, initiative, frugality, thrift, spirit of service, keeping one´s word, daring — in short, love for work well done. No system or social structure can resolve, as if by magic, the problem of poverty outside these virtues,» he said.

«Governments cannot afford to allow the Monterrey-consensus document, nor the results of the discussions and deliberations held during these days to be forgotten or set aside,» he added. «We cannot allow the work of this conference to end here, but rather we must see this as the renewal of commitment that it truly is.»

«And finally, the Family of Nations cannot allow one more day to pass wherein a real attempt to meet goals and make measurable progress toward the eradication of poverty are not pursued with all of the energy and resolve that can be mustered,» said the archbishop, who is also the Vatican´s U.N. permanent observer.

In today´s Italian edition, the semiofficial Vatican newspaper, L´Osservatore Romano, reported the criticisms about the document made by the delegations of some developing countries. The critics were dissatisfied with the provisions for the struggle against poverty.

L´Osservatore Romano also reported that the U.S. government did not respond to the appeal of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to double aid for development, to $100 billion a year from the current $50 billion.

President George W. Bush, the newspaper added, prefers the idea of free trade and investment as the decisive factor in development. To this end, he proposed a pact between rich and poor countries.

L´Osservatore Romano contrasted the U.S. position with that of the European Union, quoting statements of French President Jacques Chirac, who spoke about a «humanized and controlled globalization,» and suggested that international taxes be considered as a means to finance development.

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