Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Scourge of Poverty: Many Countries Left Behind in Economic Development

By Father John Flynn, LC

ROME, NOV. 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The poorest countries need help, and the more developed countries need to come to their aid, the Vatican has been insisting of late. Almost 10 million children below 5 years of age die each year from preventable illnesses, denounced Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

The archbishop's Oct. 9 speech to the U.N. General Assembly examined progress toward meeting a series of targets for development, known as the Millennium Development Goals.

"The global community seems to have been losing focus on the need to ensure the right to basic health care for all," he added.

Archbishop Migliore recognized that some countries have made gains, but a number of states are trailing the rest of the developing world. He called for greater attention to these states, and the encouragement of more investment and the creation of a favorable economic and social climate, along with the establishment of peace and security and the rule of law...

The fight against poverty is a moral duty, stated Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, to a July 4 session of the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

In several regions of Africa and Asia, life expectancy is almost half of that in rich countries and illiteracy reaches high levels, he pointed out.

The improvements sought through aid and debt cancellation have not yielded all the results expected, he observed. The archbishop suggested that greater concentration on projects that will create jobs could be one way to reduce poverty. "Work is the only possibility for a community to generate its own value added that pays the way out of poverty," he said.

The Holy See, Archbishop Tomasi emphasized, has repeatedly insisted on the responsibility of poorer countries to strive for good governance and do all they can to eliminate poverty. No less vital is help by other countries that are better off. Such assistance he urged, is a grave moral responsibility.

More here.

It seems trite to state the obvious: children have no control over where and to whom they are born. A life of poverty and squalor is inherently unjust and incompatible with basic human dignity. The ancient Greek pagan philosopher's Socrates and Aristotle [and St. Thomas much later of course in harmonizing the best of Greek philosophy with Christianity] understood the need to ensure that every human being is afforded the basic goods necessary for human flourishing. This is the case of course because no one is truly self-sufficient. Human beings are fundamentally social creatures who are dependent upon one another, a reality which is too often forgotten by radical libertarians and other fiscal conservatives.

It would be impossible for anyone to amass a fortune without availing themselves of certain "goods" which they had no part in providing. One has no right to demand just treatment while meeting out injustice to others. The second principle of the Natural Law (Right Reason) requires that we treat our neighbor fairly that is, treat each individual we meet as we would wish to be treated, better; actually desire and work for what is truly best for them as St. Thomas taught on "loving our neighbor."

--Dr. J. P. Hubert

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