Speaking today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI called a new initiative aimed at combating pandemic disease an effort of solidarity “which our world needs in order to overcome every form of selfishness and to foster the peaceful coexistence of peoples.”
The Holy Father welcomed finance ministers from Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada and Russia, who outlined the new "Advance Market Commitment" project. In addition, Queen Rania of Jordan and Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank were also in attendance.
In his own words, the Pope said that the new project aims "at developing and producing vaccines against pandemic diseases, and making them available to poorer countries. ... [It] is meant to help resolve one of the most pressing challenges in preventative healthcare, one which particularly affects nations already suffering from poverty and serious needs."
Pope Benedict lent his "wholehearted” encouragement to the efforts of the new program “and its goal of advancing scientific research directed to the discovery of new vaccines.” “Such vaccines”, he stressed, “are urgently needed to prevent millions of human beings, including countless children, from dying each year of infectious diseases, especially in those areas of our world at greatest risk.”
"In this era of globalized markets," continued the Pope, "we are all concerned about the growing gap between the standard of living in countries enjoying great wealth and a high level of technological development, and that of underdeveloped countries where poverty persists and is even increasing."
Assuring the group of the Holy See’s full support, the Holy Father reiterated his words from the recent World Day of Peace, saying that, “every service rendered to the poor is a service rendered to peace, for ‘at the origin of many tensions that threaten peace are surely the many unjust inequalities still tragically present in our world'."