Cardinal: Do Not Be Afraid of the Poor

Underlines Human Aspects of Development

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NEW YORK, SEPT. 22, 2010 ( The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is urging the international community to not be afraid of the poor, and to help impoverished and undeveloped countries.

Cardinal Peter Turkson stated this Monday in New York at a summit of heads of state and government on the Millennium Development Goals.

The cardinal, who headed the Holy See delegation, asserted that any attempt to use these goals «to spread and impose egoistic lifestyles or, worse still, population policies as a cheap means to reduce the number of poor people, would be malevolent and short-sighted.»

«I say this, not just as a religious leader, but also as an African and a man coming from a poor family,» he added.

«I urge the international community not to be afraid of the poor,» the prelate exhorted. The Millennium Development Goals «should be used to fight poverty and not to eliminate the poor!»

«Give poor countries a friendly financial and trade mainframe and help them to promote good governance and the participation of civil society,» he urged, «and Africa and the other poor regions of the world will effectively contribute to the welfare of all.»

Cardinal Turkson noted: «In the year 2000, with the unanimous endorsement of the Millennium Declaration, all heads of state at the United Nations acknowledged that the international struggle against poverty could not be limited to the management of the great economic variables, such as finances and foreign debts, commerce and development aid. 

«Rather, the family of nations appreciated the more specifically ‘human’ aspects of development, such as eradicating hunger, promoting education, providing health care and social services, ensuring equal opportunities for work, and advocating responsible stewardship of the environment.»

He observed that «real men and women who have formed partnership and alliances to bring the north and the south together are showing that it is possible to unite the immense possibilities of intelligence and human will in the service of integral human development.»

«There is a vast amount of experience, from Africa and from other poor regions, to demonstrate that positive change is possible,» Cardinal Turkson affirmed.


He warned against «excessive nationalism and corporate self-interest as well as old and new ideologies, fomenting wars and conflicts,» which «are all obstacles to development.»

The cardinal added, «Illicit trafficking of persons, drugs and precious raw materials linked to the situation of war and extreme poverty, on the one hand, and the lack of scruples of certain economic and social contractors from more developed regions, on the other hand, continue to be serious impediments to development.»

He stated, «The inherent and equal dignity, the individuality, and the transcendence of each human being must be the foundation of each and every policy on development.»

The prelate continued: «Reverence for human life, from conception until natural death, and respect for the capacity of men and women to live upstanding moral lives, affirms their personal transcendence, even if they live in poverty. 

«Controlling one’s passions and overcoming hedonistic impulses, constitute the starting point for building a harmonious society. 

«Such respect is also the necessary and essential condition for sustainable economic development and integral human development.»

«The family of nations has committed itself to fighting material poverty,» Cardinal Turkson affirmed.

«This is a key and noble goal to pursue,» he noted, «but in this effort let us never forget that material poverty has partners — relational, emotional, and spiritual poverty.»

«The human person must be at the center of concern in our quest for development,» the cardinal said.

«If everyone’s political, religious and economic rights and freedoms are respected,» he stated, «we will shift the paradigm from merely trying to manage poverty to creating wealth; from viewing the person as a burden to seeing the person as part of the solution.»

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