Pope targets causes of poverty in World Peace Day message
Pope Benedict XVI has attacked financial greed, the arms race and unjust trade practices, which he identified as the root causes of poverty, in a document issued by the Vatican on Thursday.
The pontiff's words are contained in a message for the Roman Catholic Church's traditional January 1, World Day of Peace, which for 2009 is themed: Fighting Poverty to Build Peace, reported dpa.
In his most outspoken and detailed analysis of poverty since his 2005 election, Benedict also focused on the current food crisis which, according to United Nations data published this week, has increased the number of hungry people to almost 1 billion.
Hunger is not caused by a shortage of food, but rather "difficulty in gaining access to it and by different forms of speculation," the pontiff said.
As for the current financial crisis, Benedict said that global markets, which are dominated by developed nations, are based "upon short-term thinking which aims at increasing the value of financial operations and concentrates on the technical management of various forms of risk."
Instead greater co-operation is needed between rich and poor countries to establish fairer trade practices and support for "fighting crime and fostering a culture of legality," Benedict said.
But the pontiff, in an apparent reference to communism and similar ideologies, warned against "the illusion that a policy of mere redistribution of existing wealth can definitively resolve" poverty.
"Wealth creation ... must be kept in mind if the fight against material poverty is to be effective in the long term," the pontiff said.
The pope also defined what he described as "moral and spiritual poverty," which, he suggested, is as widespread in the developed world as in poor nations.
In this context, Benedict defended the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion, and took issue with humanitarian groups who advocate the termination of pregnancy as a means to control population growth or to assert human rights.
"The extermination of millions of unborn children in the name of the fight against poverty, actually constitutes the destruction of the poorest of all human beings," Benedict said in the message.
Commenting on the pontiff's words, the head of the Vatican's social justice department, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, said 45 million innocents" die because of abortion each year.
Benedict also referred to the fight against AIDS which he said could only be done effectively if "moral issues connected with the spread of the (HIV) virus are also addressed."
Referring to Catholic opposition to the use of condoms, including as a means to prevent the spread of AIDS, Martino said the Pope was again stressing a "sexual ethic" which for the Church sees sexual relations confined within marriage between men and women.