.- Ahead of the G20 gathering in London tomorrow, Pope Benedict XVI has written to Prime Minister Gordon Brown to insist that any solution to the financial crisis involves the inclusion of ethics and be founded upon a "positive faith in the human person," especially those in extreme poverty.
Gordon Brown, who currently chairs the Group of 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors from industrialized and emerging nations, received a letter from Pope Benedict as the leaders prepare for their April 2-3 meeting.
The Pope praised the "noble objectives" they have set themselves, saying that they arise from the conviction "that the way out of the current global crisis can only be reached together, avoiding solutions marked by any nationalistic selfishness or protectionism."
The upcoming G20 summit, the Pope noted, is intended to "coordinate, with urgency, measures necessary to stabilize financial markets and to enable companies and families to weather this period of deep recession, as well as to restore sustainable growth in the world economy and to reform and substantially strengthen systems of global governance, in order to ensure that such a crisis is not repeated in the future."
Examining what led to the current global recession, the Holy Father said that "a key element of the crisis is a deficit of ethics in economic structures." This same crisis, he insisted, "teaches us that ethics is not 'external' to the economy but 'internal' and that the economy cannot function if it does not bear within it an ethical component."
The Holy Father also drew upon his recently concluded trip to Africa to impress upon the G20 leaders the gravity of their decisions. While in Africa, the Pope wrote, he was able to "see first hand the reality of severe poverty and marginalization, which the crisis risks aggravating dramatically."
And although the poor would be the most affected population, Pope Benedict pointed out that their voice has little chance of being heard by the G20, where "sub-Saharan Africa is represented by just one State and some regional organizations."
This, he writes, "must prompt a profound reflection among the summit participants, since those whose voice has least force in the political scene are precisely the ones who suffer most from the harmful effects of a crisis for which they do not bear responsibility."
The solutions arrived at by the G20 must involve "a courageous and generous strengthening of international co-operation, capable of promoting a truly humane and integral development. Positive faith in the human person, and above all faith in the poorest men and women - of Africa and other regions of the world affected by extreme poverty - is what is needed if we are truly to come through the crisis once and for all, without turning our back on any region, and if we are definitively to prevent any recurrence of a situation similar to that in which we find ourselves today," he wrote.
The Pope concluded his letter by expressing the wish to add his voice "to those of the adherents of various religions and cultures who share the conviction that the elimination of extreme poverty by 2015, to which leaders at the UN Millennium Summit committed themselves, remains one of the most important tasks of our time."
Gordon Brown replied to the Pope's letter by saying that he agreed with the Holy Father's ideas and that "...we stand ready to support the most vulnerable in society. It is vital that rich countries keep their promises on aid, even in these tough times."