Today marks the start of the G8 summit that is being held in Heiligendamm, Germany. At the end of the general audience today in Rome, the Pope delivered a message specifically addressed to the leaders assembled for the summit.
The assembly includes the seven most industrialized countries in the world plus the Russian Federation.
The Pope recalled how on December 16, 2006 he had written to Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, at the beginning of the German presidency of the European Union, "thanking her, in the name of the Catholic Church, for the decision to keep the theme of world poverty on the agenda of the G8, with specific reference to Africa.
Chancellor Merkel replied to Benedict on February 2nd assuring him that the group would keep its promises. However, as recent news reports have noted, the level of relief for Africa in 2006 did not see the promised increase.
"Now," he added, "I should like to make a further appeal to the leaders meeting at Heiligendamm, not to retreat from their promises to make a substantial increase in development aid in favor of the most needy populations, especially those of the African continent.
The Holy Father also drew attention to the second millennium goal that speaks about primary education. The goal’s purpose is, 'to achieve universal primary education - to ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015.'
Indicating that the attainment of this goal is directly connected to many of the others the pontiff called to mind the help that the Church provides.
"It must not be forgotten that the Catholic Church has always been at the forefront in the field of education, reaching places, particularly in the poorest countries, that State structures often fail to reach. Other Christian Churches, religious groups and organizations of civil society share this educational commitment. According to the principle of subsidiarity, this reality should be recognized, valued and supported by governments and international organizations, among other things by the allocation of sufficient funding, so that greater efficacy may be guaranteed in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Let us hope," he concluded, "that serious efforts be made to reach these objectives."