Holy See Hails Renewed Pledge to Fight Poverty

Summit on Millennium Development Goals Called

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican is hopeful after the international community expressed a renewed pledge to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and affirmed a greater spirit of international solidarity.

A statement from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace expressed the Vatican’s welcome of the news that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon backed the July 31 proposal of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to hold a summit on the Millennium Development Goals next year.

With regard to the proposal, according to the U.N. press office, Ban signaled the need to “construct a greater synergy between the group of the eight most industrialized countries and the Economic and Social Council” of the United Nations.

“The millennium goals belong to all,” he said. “We need to feel ourselves a part of this project. During the next seven and a half years, each day will be a new day in which we can help millions of people in the world.”

The goals, adopted by all U.N. member states in 2000, seek to reduce the level of poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2015.

“The eighth objective, frequently underestimated or disregarded,” said the Aug. 1 statement of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, “solicits a global commitment for the sustainable development of all nations.”

In 2007, halfway between 2000 and 2015, the status of the millennium goals was being debated on various levels, the dicastery said.

Even earlier

And it indicated that in 2000, 15 years was considered an adequate amount of time to eliminate poverty in the world, to guarantee universal primary education, to favor equal dignity and rights to men and women, to reduce infant mortality, to promote better conditions for motherhood, to combat disease and epidemics like AIDS and malaria, to protect the environment and to improve international solidarity and cooperation.

“In reality the governments assumed the commitment to achieve the cited objectives before 2000,” said the note, “for example on the occasion of the World Summit for Social Development celebrated in Copenhagen in 1995.”

The dicastery stated that even though the international community hasn’t achieved all of its goals, its efforts “are measurable,” and that there have been improvements in “education and health, and in the elimination of poverty in the world.” In any case, continued the statement, “a more effective push continues to be urgent.”

For the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, “the call for a renewed commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals cannot be considered as a simple occasion to repeat declarations of intent, which are not followed by specific actions and various policies.”

“On the contrary,” it said, “in accordance with the wishes expressed by Benedict XVI, developed countries, above all, are called to put at the center of their own laws the elimination of the extreme poverty found in many countries, and the achievement” of these millennium goals.

“The time for simple promises seems to have passed,” said the statement. “In Brussels — 2001, Monterrey — 2002 — and Johannesburg — 2002, governments renewed the commitment to allocate 0.7% of their gross national income to help development,” but “if this promise had been kept, an estimated $192 billion would be available each year for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals — more than double of the actual $78.6 billion.”

“The commitment to a new phase of international coexistence, based on a renewed political will, and the mobilization of human resources and materials for the realization of a real solidarity, and for the development of all nations, should be shared by all,” the dicastery affirmed. “The Holy See desires and shares this determination.”

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