Bishops Asking G-8 Summit to Help Africa

Cite Need for Progress on Agricultural Trade and Access to Medicines

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, MAY 29, 2003 ( Catholic bishops of Europe and Africa have made a joint appeal to the summit of the most industrialized nations for a new effort to help Africa.

The proposal is included in a letter sent by Bishop Josef Homeyer, president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), and Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, president of the Symposium of Bishops’ Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), to the G-8 summit in Evian, France. The summit will run June 1-3.

In the letter to President Jacques Chirac of France, host of the summit, they ask that practical support be given to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) by increasing development aid and reducing the debt of developing countries.

They also ask the G-8 to help African countries meet their obligations under NEPAD in order to improve their internal governance.

The bishops welcome the initiative of the French presidency to invite the leaders of several developing countries and international organizations to take part in a joint session with the G-8, which they say would be a step toward the sort of «Global Governance Group» — advocated in a report to the bishops of COMECE in October 2001 — which is needed to make globalization an opportunity for all and not just for the wealthiest.

The prelates also call on the European Union and the G-8 countries to overcome the impasse on negotiations within the World Trade Organization on agricultural trade and access to medications — issues of top importance for Africa.

During their meeting the presidents of COMECE and SECAM approved the conclusions of a joint seminar in Lisbon on Feb. 27-28, on «Africa and the European Union: Partners in Solidarity — Contribution of the Church.»

They expressed their hope that an Africa-Europe summit would take place at the earliest opportunity. The summit, which was due to take place in Lisbon in April, was postponed indefinitely due to the situation in Zimbabwe.

Archbishop Monsengwo of Kisangani, in Congo, reported on the crisis in the region of Ituri. The bishops called on the international community, and particularly European Union countries, to do everything in their power to prevent a further escalation of the violence and to avert the risk of genocide.

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