Pope calls for solidarity to end poor countries' debt

.- In a letter to Cardinal Renato Martino president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Holy Father called developed countries to solidarity with the poor by ending the debts of less developed countries.

The Pope’s letter was penned on the occasion of the Council-sponsored international seminar being held today in the Vatican on “Poverty and Globalization: Financing for Development, including the Millennium Development Goals.”

Assuring the participants of his “prayers and encouragement for this most important work,” the Pope noted that “the conditions of extreme poverty afflicting many millions of people are a cause of grave concern to the international community.”

“The Church, committed to a 'preferential option for the poor', naturally shares in that concern and strongly supports the Millennium goal of halving the number of people living in poverty by the year 2015,” he wrote.

“Through the many Catholic aid and development agencies,” he continued, “She makes her own contribution to relief efforts, thereby continuing the work of Christ Himself, who came to bring good news to the poor, to feed the hungry, to serve and not to be served.”

“Much work has already been done,” he wrote, “to reduce the burden of debt afflicting poor countries, but more is needed if developing nations are to escape from the crippling effects of under-investment and if developed countries are to fulfil their duty of solidarity with their less fortunate brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.”

“In the short to medium term,” he continued, “a commitment to increase foreign aid seems the only way forward, and the Church therefore welcomes the search for innovative solutions, such as the International Finance Facility.”

The Pope added that “at the same time, financial support from wealthy nations places an obligation on the receiver to demonstrate transparency and accountability in the use made of such assistance.”

“I am confident that the governments of rich and poor countries alike will take seriously their responsibilities towards each other and towards their people,” he said in conclusion.

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