In his remarks at a U.N. economic meeting on Friday, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the head of the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations, asked that the poorest countries be given priority at this time of economic crisis. He endorsed the adoption of an “ethical approach” by those active in international markets and those in political office.
Speaking to the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, Archbishop Migliore said the World Bank has estimated an additional 55-90 million people will be trapped in “extreme poverty” in 2009, while the number of chronically hungry people may climb over 1 billion individuals this year.
For the Holy See, he explained, there is a “compelling moral obligation” to address worsening social and economic disparities which “undermine the basic dignity of so many.”
The archbishop endorsed proposals to provide the vulnerable with “short-term stabilization measures” and long-term measures to help ensure “sustainable financial flows,” thus reducing the likelihood economic crisis will recur.
“We also urge that the future agenda be not overly ambitious,” he said, advocating “tangible relief.”
“The new global crisis should not be a pretext for forgetting old concerns,” Archbishop Migliore cautioned. He said eliminating agricultural export subsidies was an “essentially moral” and “urgent” prerogative that could provide “significant benefits” to very poor developing countries.
The archbishop also criticized what he said was the crisis’ underlying ideology, one that places individuals and individual desires “at the center of all economic decisions.”
“The practice of economics has reflected this ideological focus and has sought to remove values and morality from economic discussions rather than seeking to integrate these concerns into creating a more effective and just financial system,” he critiqued.
“This world view has created a society in which short-term economic and personal gains are made at the expense of others and have the effect of creating an individualism lacking recognition of the shared rights and responsibilities necessary to create a society respecting the dignity of all people,” Migliore said.
Archbishop Migliore then recalled Pope Benedict XVI’s World Day of Peace reflections, which placed “special emphasis” on the need for “a strong sense of global solidarity” between rich and poor countries to address poverty.
Noting that international commerce and finance has processes that allow for a “positive integration of economics” that leads to an overall improvement in conditions, the archbishop also warned of negative processes that marginalize peoples and lead to war and conflicts.
Only an “ethical approach” advancing “inclusive participation” can achieve true global solidarity, the archbishop concluded.