OTTAWA, Ontario, JUNE 24, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The bishops’ conferences of the nations included in the Group of Eight are appealing to their leaders to address global poverty and climate change at their upcoming meeting.
The leaders of the G-8 nations will meet in Japan in early July. The G-8 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.
The summit will also include a special meeting of African leaders, and another meeting of the 17 largest emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, as part of the effort to come to an agreement on climate change.
“Our religious and moral commitment to protect human life and promote human dignity moves us to be particularly concerned for the poorest and most vulnerable members of the human family, especially those in developing countries,” the bishops wrote. “The experience of the Catholic Church in serving the needs of poor communities leads us to applaud the summit’s focus on development and Africa.”
The prelates recalled that the world’s richest countries have pledged an additional $50 billion per year of development assistance by 2010, half of that money designated for Africa.
“This commitment must be met and additional commitments should be made in the areas of health care, education and humanitarian aid,” the bishops stated.
The prelates affirmed that the global food crisis and the toll of HIV-AIDS, malaria and other diseases “make concerted action even more urgent.”
The bishops said: “We ask you to consider concrete proposals that mitigate the impact of the world food crisis on poor communities, increase health and education spending, and move toward just world trade policies that respect the dignity of the human person in their working life.
“To ensure long-term success of these measures, the poor must be empowered to be drivers of their own development. Promoting their self-help capacities and their participation in economic, social, political and cultural processes are essential prerequisites for development.”
The prelates also focused on global climate change, “an issue of particular concern to people of faith based on our commitment to protect God’s creation.”
“As Catholic bishops, we have a special concern for the impact of climate change on the poor,” they wrote. “The poor, who have contributed least to the human activities that aggravate global climate change, are likely to experience a disproportionate share of its harmful effects, including potential conflicts, escalating energy costs, and health problems. […] The costs of initiatives to prevent and adapt to the harmful consequences of climate change should be borne more by richer persons and nations who have benefited most from the emissions that have fueled development and should not unduly burden the poor.”
“The G8 Summit will explore many issues of critical importance to human life and dignity,” the prelates concluded. “We pray that your meeting will be blessed by a spirit of collaboration that enables you to advance the global common good by taking concrete measures to reduce poverty and address climate change.”