Fr. Czerny moderated discussion during the Sept. 22 launch of the 2016 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report, titled “Structural Transformation for Inclusive and Sustained Growth.”
In a summary of the report provided by UNCTAD officials, it was explained that the economic slowdown in advanced economies has steadily continued to decline since the economic crisis of 2008, and is the “biggest drag on global growth.”
However, the novelty found in 2016’s report is that while the slowdown has previously impacted mainly advanced nations, developing countries “are now caught in the downdraft,” and are starting to feel the impact.
Held at the Rome headquarters of Vatican Radio, the news conference presenting the report was hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which is headed by Cardinal Peter Turkson.
The cardinal was scheduled to speak at the presentation but was unable to attend due to a last minute commitment. His speech was read aloud by Fr. Czerny, who collaborates with the pontifical council.
In his speech, Cardinal Turkson noted how the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace was established in 1967 as a result of the Second Vatican Council, just three years after the U.N. had instituted the UNCTAD.
Recalling Bl. Paul VI’s words at the founding meeting for UNCTAD, Cardinal Turkson said that “Development (is) the new name of peace,” but stressed that true development “must foster the development of every person and of the whole person.”
This not only means each individual man, woman and child, but “each human group, and humanity as a whole,” the cardinal said.
He noted how in the 52 years since the founding of UNCTAD, new technologies have broken down the traditional borders between nations and helped open new areas of economic opportunity.
“A less polarized political landscape has provided new possibilities for worldwide trade,” he said, noting that economic power “has become more dispersed, mostly due to globalization and to industrialization and rapid growth in East Asia, with corresponding changes in the workings of the international trading system.”
However, the cardinal asked what forms of trade, growth and development would be able to meet the “pervasive challenges of poverty, of inequality and lack of progress,” adding that the answer must always focus on the good of the human person, including that of future generations.
When it comes to safeguarding the environment and ensuring that economic affairs are ordered to the well-being of everyone, “human leadership or governance still seems to have a lot to learn,” he said.
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Cardinal Turkson stressed that world governance, including that of institutions belonging to the U.N., needs “to appreciate the poor,” viewing them “not as a problem, but as people who can become the principal builders of a new and more human future for everyone.”
Turning to the financial crisis of 2008, the cardinal said it has left “a long shadow” resulting from “a combination of ethical and technical breakdowns,” which are seen in the 2016 UNCTAD report.
“Have the right lessons been learned yet?” he asked, insisting that it is not yet evident that “the organizations, institutions and decision-makers responsible for ethical and technical breakdowns have acknowledged their role, much less made the necessary repairs.”
“We must do better,” he said, adding that our societies must to find ways to exercising greater corporate, financial and governmental responsibility for both the economy and the environment.
“The world economy has been marooned in growth doldrums for the past six years, and this state of affairs is in growing danger of becoming accepted as the ‘new normal,’” he observed.
Both dialogue and cooperation are needed in response, Cardinal Turkson said, but noted that these aren’t always easy to achieve. However, “the ‘old normal’ of isolated sectors and competing institutions will not meet the challenges.”