Cardinal Sodano to Attend "Summit Against Hunger" at U.N.

Program Will Study Plans to Combat World Poverty

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 19, 2004 ( Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano will attend a meeting at the United Nations in New York to study the effectiveness of programs that battle world hunger and poverty.

Cardinal Sodano, the Pope’s right hand in the guidance of the Holy See, responded with interest to this initiative, «promoted by the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in accord with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and several heads of state and executives of international organizations,» reported Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls.

The cardinal will attend a working session Monday with heads of state who support the initiative «Struggle Against Hunger and Poverty,» among whom — in addition to Lula — are French President Jacques Chirac, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and Chilean President Ricardo Lagos.

During the meeting referred to as the Summit Against Hunger, heads of state and delegates from all continents will study the Brazilian president’s proposals to promote sustainable development.

Among other things, Lula suggests the imposition of tariffs on the sale of arms and on financial transactions, and the establishment of voluntary funding initiatives to help the poorest countries.

Navarro Valls’ press note said that, during his stay in the United States, Cardinal Sodano will receive an award from the Path to Peace Foundation, of the Holy See’s mission at the United Nations.

Cardinal Sodano also is scheduled to deliver a lecture at St. John’s University on «The Leaven of the Gospel in Contemporary Society.»

The Italian edition of today’s L’Osservatore Romano explained that the cardinal’s participation in the initiative «reaffirms the concern of the Holy See, which is committed on the front line, in the evangelical mission of uprooting the real scourge of hunger, which undermines the life and dignity of people who are suffering because of poverty.»

«If the earth, with its fruits, is able to feed all the inhabitants of the world, why then do almost 1 billion suffer from hunger?» the Vatican newspaper asked.

«In keeping with her nature and mission, the Catholic Church is prepared to support the initiative of those who work to offer all men their daily bread,» the article stated. «Not only is it a challenge of the economic and technical order, but also of the ethical and spiritual order.»

«Because of this, a clear project is necessary that is at the service of the human person, and that will not give in to discouragement in face of the enormous difficulties to realize it,» the article continued.

«The statistics that denounce the tragedy are not ‘cold numbers.’ Behind each ‘number’ there is a person, a history,» it said. «According to data offered by the United Nations, every day 24,000 people die of hunger. Every minute, 11 children die of hunger, who are not even 5 years old.»

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