VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2003 ( John Paul II appealed for new programs for the "just and sustainable development" of poorer countries in the context of globalization.

The Holy Father's appeal was voiced this past weekend at the 2nd North-South World Forum, organized by the School of Ethics and Economics and the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University of Rome.

The forum focused on micro-credit projects under way in several developing countries and industrialized countries, as well as a report on the "De-tax" initiative, under which Italian businesses allocate 1% of their earnings to development programs in the poorest nations.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano sent the papal message to the forum, which gathered businessmen, academics, theologians, agents of non-governmental organizations, and members of ecclesial movements.

In the letter, the Holy Father encouraged them to find "new ways for a just and sustainable development, especially in favor of countries in which, unfortunately, people continue to die from curable sicknesses or due to precarious conditions of life."

Globalization "has ethical consequences of great importance," the Pope said, highlighting "the relation between produced wealth and work."

In this connection, the Pontiff said that "economic freedom is only one of the elements of human freedom." He underlined the need to promote "international bodies of control and guidance that will direct the economy itself toward the common good."

"Economic activity cannot neglect the genuine good of the whole human family," the Pope explained, repeating ideas he expressed in his encyclical "Centesimus Annus."

"By her vocation, the Church" is committed to "safeguard rights, especially when it concerns the poorest and most vulnerable people," he added.

"The person" must be "at the heart of every productive action," thanks to social and economic structures and systems which effectively favor justice and solidarity," he stressed.

While encouraging concrete projects in this direction, John Paul II concluded that "it is necessary that the economy and the market, fully respecting every person, respond to the real expectations and fully develop the wonderful freedom of initiative of every one."