Pope: Reducing Public Debt a Duty of Justice

Addresses New Ambassador of Seychelles

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Reducing debt is an act of justice and an «important challenge» faced by future generations, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope spoke Friday of solidarity and social justice with regard to forgiving the debt of Third World countries upon receiving the new ambassador to the Holy See from the Seychelles Islands, an archipelago nation of 115 islands near Madagascar.

«It would be unjust if the men of today neglected their responsibility and made the consequences of their choices or their lack of action weigh on generations that will come in the future,» he said.

The African country is a major tourist destination and one of the world’s principal fiscal paradises. Despite being the richest in Africa, they are heavily in debt, with a public debt of 122.8% of the GDP.

For Seychelles, the Pope observed, it is a question «not only of healing the economy but also and above all a question of social justice. Righting the nation’s accounts moreover presupposes offering a more secure context to economic activity and defending the most poor and vulnerable populations.»

The Holy Father explained that the goal of reducing the public debt «requires everyone’s cooperation» and therefore, «a sense of solidarity» is fundamental.

A social virtue

Benedict XVI took the occasion of the audience with the Seychelles’ ambassador to explain the twofold meaning that solidarity has in the Church’s social thought: «It refers not only to a just and adequate legislative context but also to the moral quality of every citizen.»

The two dimensions are linked, he said, because it is necessary that there be the support of both «structures of solidarity» and «the firm and persevering determination of every person who works for the common good of the majority, because we are all responsible for everyone.»

In this sense, the Pope explained that education is an «important means» for instilling solidarity, but he pointed out that «this concern for education will be in vain if the institution of the family is excessively weakened.»

Families «need to be constantly animated and supported by public powers,» the Pontiff said. «There must be a deep harmony between the tasks of the family and the tasks of the state.»

In view of this, the Holy Father called on the Catholic Church — Catholics make up 82.3% of the population of the Seychelles — «not to spare efforts to accompany families, offering them the light of the Gospel, that stresses the greatness and beauty of the ‘mystery’ of the family, helping them to assume their educative responsibility.»

«In regard to those who suffer from difficulties, it is important to facilitate peace in relationships and educate hearts in reconciliation,» Benedict XVI added.

The Pontiff urged Catholics to «show their own concern, in agreement with all the other citizens, for building a social life in which everyone can find the way of a personal and collective openness.»

«In this way,» he concluded, «they will bear witness to the social fruitfulness of the Word of God.»

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