Portuguese Statesman Requests Papal Document on Globalization

Former Prime Minister Guterres at Congress on Catholics and Public Life

MADRID, SPAIN, NOV. 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres stressed the need for a new papal document, to shed light on the perspective of Catholic social teaching on rapid social change resulting from globalization.

Guterres, a Socialist and practicing Catholic, made his proposal in an inaugural address to the fourth Congress on Catholics and Public Life, held this weekend at the San Pablo-CEU University of Madrid.

Emphasizing the “validity and timelessness of the social doctrine of the Church,” Guterres sensed a need for a new, in-depth document on the issue of globalization, backed by the highest authority of the Church.

As a practical application of social doctrine in today’s world, to foster social justice and solidarity, Guterres called for the cancellation of Third World debt, the unilateral opening of developed markets to underdeveloped countries, and the reform of the European Union’s policy on agricultural subsidies, which he labeled “morally unacceptable and financially unsustainable.”

Guterres cited the African continent as “the greatest collective responsibility of humanity, and the best proof of its collective sin.”

The former Portuguese Prime Minister described globalization as “an irreversible fact, which offers enormous opportunities but also enormous problems,” because it is a factor in the spread of injustice, both in developed and underdeveloped economies.

Guterres recalled that one fifth of the world’s population continues to live on less than one dollar a day, and that inequality between the rich and poor is growing. The problem, he added, lies in the lack of rules for globalization, which in some cases is “unbridled.”

The Congress on Catholics and Public Life, which ended today, seeks to analyze social, political, economic, and cultural realities, and to promote and channel Catholic action, in light of the social doctrine of the Church. Among the participants were well-known Catholic politicians, businessmen, intellectuals, and union leaders from Europe and Latin America.

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