Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical on globalisation, economics and poverty, released today (7 July) must set the tone for a new approach to global development which ensures dignity for all people and long-term environmental sustainability, international development charity Progressio has said.
The encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” calls for a reform of the United Nations, a "profoundly new way" of organising global finance and a re-evaluation of the model of development.
It comes a day after the UK government launched a new White Paper on international poverty which was criticised by another Catholic aid agency Cafod as "not providing any leadership" in rethinking the economic development model in light of the climate and financial crises.
The White Paper still had at its heart "the need for the rich to get a lot richer for the poor to get a little less poor", the aid agency said.
Christine Allen, Chief Executive of Progressio said: “It is the right moment to say 'enough is enough'. More than a billion people worldwide are living in poverty while our planet struggles to cope with huge environmental challenges. Now is the time to rethink what we want our collective future to look like.”
The Pope’s call for a strengthened United Nations highlights an underlying crisis of global governance, says Christine Allen. “It took world wars to create the political will for the League of Nations and the United Nations. So the key question is whether global powers have the conviction and courage to invest in serious reform.”
She added: “Global systems were largely ‘broken’ for millions of poor people around the world before the global economic crisis struck. The crisis is reversing recent gains in tackling poverty but we cannot simply ‘fix’ it with old methods. World leaders must heed the Pope’s reflections, think differently and structure the global economy differently.”
Speaking from Malawi, where six out of 10 people live on less than 60 pence a day, Lloyd Simwaka, Progressio’s manager in the country said: “It is time for rich governments to ask themselves ‘who benefits from the economic systems we have run in the past?’ When so many parents around the world are unable to feed their families or send their children to school, there is surely something wrong with the way we run things.
“Many world leaders are people of faith, some of them Catholics. They need to take notice of what the Pope and other faith leaders are saying and allow it to become part of their thinking and policy-making. They must better address the problems we are all facing – whether that is financial, food or climate crises. Every human being should have choices and opportunities to have their basic needs met and to live a fulfilled life.”