African Bishops Say Poverty Stems From Corruption

5-year Plan Against Famine Launched in Kenya

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YAOUNDE, Cameroon, FEB. 9, 2009 ( Bishops of the central African region denounced corruption in their countries as one of the causes of poverty.

L’Osservatore Romano reported Sunday that the prelates of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa Region (ACERAC), including representatives from Gabon, Congo, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea, issued this statement on poverty in their countries.

In the report, the bishops denounce the increase in corruption through the exploitation of energy sources such as oil, and they underlined «the need for greater transparency in economic activities.»

The exploitation of a nation’s natural resources should happen under the observance of environmental and social laws, so that human rights and the welfare of the population are respected, affirmed the prelates.

They stated, «If the riches from the soil and subsoil contrast with the misery of the people, this happens because of corruption, which obstructs the functioning of our government and our economy, of our investments, of our educational system and health.»
The bishops asked for «a review of existing illegitimate contracts and, above all, of those not yet signed, so that our communities are not impoverished by the activities of dishonest exploiters.»

The association already publicly denounced the corruption in this region of Africa in 2002. After a meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, they published a pastoral letter in which they stated that, despite the abundance of oil, «the inhabitants of Central Africa are among the poorest of the earth.»

Plan against poverty

Also in these days, the Kenyan bishops’ conference launched a five-year strategic plan to overcome the shortage caused by drought and rising food prices, reported Fides. This plan not only seeks to provide answers to the problem of hunger, but above all to form consciences.

The conference president, Cardinal John Njue, explained that they are launching «an efficacious apostolate and an advanced support service to all the dioceses in the country,» to promote «social renewal in Kenya, a renewal based on Gospel principles and able to unite a country still shocked by the post-election violence last year.»

The cardinal continued, «In a society that tends to violence, corruption, inequality, and injustices of all kinds, the Catholic Church, through the Justice and Peace Commission, will continue to form consciences, with the side of truth, of justice and reconciliation.»

He added, «We know that in many parts of the country it has rained little, but we are also aware of the fact that if we had taken appropriate measures, planned in advance, overcoming greed and selfishness, and if politicians would have eliminated the culture of corruption, no one’s life would have been in jeopardy or would have died of hunger.»

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