International bishops urge G8 leaders to remember the poor

Catholic bishops from across the world joined together to ask leaders of the G8 nations to consider the needs of the poor in developing countries across the globe.

In a June 3 letter, the bishops encouraged the national leaders to work in their upcoming meeting to "take steps to improve nutrition, reduce hunger and poverty, and strengthen just tax, trade and transparency policies for the common good of all."

The G8 – or Group of Eight – is a forum of major industrialized countries that meet to discuss issues of international concern, such as global security, economic growth and terrorism. Its members include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The G8 nations are planning to meet for their 2013 summit in the United Kingdom later this month.

Amid preparations for this year's meeting, representatives of national Catholic bishops' conferences from across the globe urged participants to heed the words of Pope Francis, who has called for special protections of the poor and weak.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. bishops' conference, signed the letter, along with the leaders of bishops' conferences in England, Ireland, France, Russia, Japan and several other countries.

"Your focus on agriculture and nutrition ahead of the G8 Meeting is timely," the bishops said in their letter. "In a world that has made great strides in improving food production and distribution, far too many of God's children still go to bed hungry or suffer from a lack of nutrition."

In addition, the bishops highlighted the problem of tax evasion and the importance of trade in serving the needs of people throughout the world.

"Trade and trade rules must serve the universal common good of the whole human family and the special needs of the most vulnerable nations," they said.

They also stressed the importance of transparency, saying, "Human dignity demands truth, and democracy requires transparency."

In order to defend the common good, the bishops asked the G8 leaders to consider "how a given policy will affect the poor and the vulnerable."

"As a human family we are only as healthy as our weakest members," they stressed.

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