Fight Against Poverty Must Actively Involve the Poor, Says Pope

In Address to Philippine Ambassador

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 19, 2004 ( In the struggle against poverty, governments should not only assist the poor but also actively involve them in finding long-lasting solutions to their problems, says John Paul II.

The Pope expressed this today when he received the letters of credence of Leonida Vera, the new Philippine ambassador to the Holy See.

«Unfortunately, the Philippines and much of the Asian region continue to be plagued by the blight of extreme poverty,» the Holy Father said.

«This fact can at times tempt governments to adopt shortsighted solutions which in reality often lead to policies which bring no real benefit to the people. To deal with poverty effectively every sector of society must work together in search of solutions,» he said.

«The seemingly futile struggle with poverty is one of the main sources of disaffection and marginalization among the young,» the Pope observed.

«Tempted to look for quick material gain, they are often led into lives of crime, or as is currently being experienced throughout the world, they associate themselves with radical movements which promise social change through violence and bloodshed,» the Holy Father said.

«Combating these trends requires a concerted effort to welcome, listen to and engage the talents and gifts of the less fortunate by helping them to realize that they are an integral part of society,» he added.

However, the construction of «a society based on human dignity can only be achieved when those in authority espouse the principles of right governance and honesty in their personal and public lives and offer unconditional service to their fellow citizens for the common good,» the Pope said.

«Public servants, therefore, have an especially grave obligation to ensure that they are role models of moral behavior and do their best to help others form a correct conscience which at all times shuns any type of graft or corruption,» he added.

«These qualities of genuine leadership are of special concern as your country prepares for the coming elections. A criterion for judging the success of a democracy can, in fact, be found in the quality of its elections, which must be fair, honest and free, while always upholding the constitutional process and the rule of law,» John Paul II said, quoting the pastoral statement of the Philippine bishops’ conference on this year’s elections.

He added: «In this regard, I am confident that the good will of those involved in the elections will lead to a stronger nation, truly based on equity and justice for all.»

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