On July 4, just days before his social encyclical is set to be released, Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter regarding the upcoming G8 meeting to the Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi. In his letter, he called for renewed international efforts to work together in order “to face current challenges” in front of mankind today.
The heads of State and Government of the Group of Eight industrialized countries (G8) are scheduled to meet in the Italian city of L'Aquila from July 8 to 10.
Pope Benedict recalled John Paul II’s conviction that “eradicating the causes of extreme poverty in the world” would depend upon “the most economically-advanced governments and States fully assuming the responsibility they bear towards all humanity.”
Acknowledging the millennium goal to eradicate extreme poverty around the globe by 2015, the Holy Father observed that “the financial and economic crisis that has struck the entire planet since the start of 2008 has altered the panorama, so that there is now a real risk not only that the hope of emerging from extreme poverty may be extinguished, but that people who until now benefited from some minimal material wellbeing risk falling into indigence.”
With this in mind, the Pontiff reached out to make an appeal to the G8 members, asking them “that their aid for development, especially the part directed at 'evaluating' the 'human resource,' may be maintained and strengthened, and not just despite the crisis but precisely because this is one of the principle ways to solve it.”
The Pope also spoke of the importance of education, encouraging “international co-operation” by the world community, as well as the Catholic Church and other religions, to increase access to education, even to the "poorest and most remote corners of the globe."
The Holy Father observed, "Education is an indispensable condition for the working of democracy, for the fight against corruption, for the exercise of political, economic and social rights, and for the recovery of all States, both poor and rich."
He went on to note the importance of "the creation of jobs for everyone” which will allow workers to provide for their families, educate their children and be involved in their communities.
Benedict XVI continued to speak of the necessity “to reform international financial structures in order to ensure effective co-ordination of national policies.”
Emphasizing multilateralism, the Pope also spoke of the “ethical legitimization” of the G8’s political commitments, which will require “that they be weighed against the ideas and needs of the entire international community.”
This co-operation, said the Pontiff, is necessary “not only in economic questions but over the entire spectrum of topics concerning peace, world security, disarmament, health, and protection of the environment and of natural resources.”
The Holy Father also encouraged G8 leaders "to listen to the voice of Africa and of less economically-developed countries," as well as to seek ways to link the decisions of the G8 to the United Nations Assembly, where “each nation, whatever its political or economic importance, can legitimately express itself in a position of equality with others.”
Benedict concluded his letter by commenting on the location of the summit. Recalling the devastation caused by the recent earthquake in L’Aquila and noting the aid the city has received since then, he encouraged the G8 members to see this meeting as an invitation “to unite to face current challenges, which require humankind to make decisive choices concerning the very destiny of man, intimately connected with that of creation.”