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Holy See Statement on Sustainable Development

Holy See Statement on Sustainable Development
“Protecting the Environment Means More Than Defending It”

NEW YORK, OCT. 30, 2007 ( Here is a statement by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivered Monday to the 62nd U.N. General Assembly, on the topic of sustainable development.

* * *

Madam Chairperson,

The Plan of Implementation adopted at the conclusion of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg reaffirms that poverty eradication, changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are overarching objectives of, and essential requirements for, sustainable development. It repeatedly reasserts that the three components of sustainable development — economic development, social development and environmental protection — are interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars.

My delegation believes that protecting the environment means more than defending it. Protecting the environment implies a more positive vision of the human being, in the sense that the person is not considered a nuisance or a threat to the environment, but one who holds oneself responsible for the care and management of the environment. In this sense, not only is there no opposition between the human being and the environment, there is established an inseparable alliance, in which the environment essentially conditions man’s life and development, while the human being perfects and ennobles the environment by his or her creative activity.

Beyond all the studies on environment and development, the primary concern of my delegation is the importance of grasping the underlying moral imperative that all, without exception, have a grave responsibility to protect the environment. While the duty to protect the environment should not be considered in opposition to development, it must not be sacrificed on the altar of economic development. My delegation believes that, at its core, the environmental crisis is a moral challenge. It calls us to examine how we use and share the goods of the earth and what we pass on to future generations. It exhorts us to live in harmony with our environment. Thus the ever-expanding powers of the human being over nature must be accompanied by an equally expanding responsibility toward the environment.

The issue of the environment is directly related to other basic questions, making holistic solutions ever harder to find. Environment is inseparable from questions such as energy and economics, peace and justice, national interests and international solidarity. It is not hard to see how issues of environmental protection, models of development, social equity and each one’s share of the responsibility to care for the environment are inextricably intertwined.

For instance, while we seek to find the best way to protect the environment and attain sustainable development, we must also work for justice within societies and among nations. We must consider how in most countries today, it is the poor and the powerless who most directly bear the brunt of environmental degradation. Unable to do otherwise, they live in polluted lands, near toxic waste dumps, or squat in public lands and other people’s properties without any access to basic services. Subsistence farmers clear woodlands and forests in order to survive. Their efforts to eke out a bare existence perpetuate a vicious circle of poverty and environmental degradation. Indeed, extreme want is not only the worst of all pollutions; it is also a great polluter.

However, all is not gloom. Encouraging signs of greater public awareness of the interrelatedness of the challenges we face have been emerging. The unease created by predictions of disastrous consequences of climate change has awakened individuals and countries to the urgency of caring for the environment. Environmental degradation caused by certain models of economic development makes many realize that development is not achieved through a mere quantitative increase of production, but through a balanced approach to production, respect for the rights and dignity of workers, and environmental protection.

My delegation earnestly hopes that these positive signs can lead to the consolidation of a vision of human progress that is consistent with respect for nature, and to a greater international solidarity in which the responsibility for environmental care is equitably and proportionally shared between the developed and the developing countries, between the rich and the poor. It is incumbent upon authorities to ensure that these promising signs translate into public policies capable of arresting, reversing and preventing environmental decay, while pursuing the goal of sustainable development for all.

Laws are not enough to alter behavior. Behavioral change requires personal commitment and the ethical conviction of the value of solidarity. It demands a more equitable relationship between rich and poor countries, placing special obligations on large-scale industrial structures, both in developed and developing nations, to seriously take measures for environmental protection. A more caring attitude toward nature can be attained and maintained with education and a persevering awareness campaign. The more people know about the various aspects of the environmental challenges they face, the better they can respond.

Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

[Text adapted]

Filed under: Economic Policy, Papal Teachings

Catholic Relief Services Hoping for More Aid

ZE07103007 – 2007-10-30

Catholic Relief Services Hoping for More Aid

Group Says It Needs More U.S. Funding to Get Food to Starving


BALTIMORE, Maryland, OCT. 30, 2007 ( Noting Benedict XVI’s affirmation that “food is a universal right” for all people, Catholic Relief Services says it needs more support from Congress to reach its goals.

Less than two weeks after World Food Day, when the Pope echoed the U.N. affirmation that food is a right, the U.S.-based charity organization is not sure it can keep its aid programs above water.

A sharp rise in the prices of commodities such as wheat, corn and soybean oil — in addition to the rising costs for shipping and freight — has forced the international development agency to press for increased funding from Congress.

Without additional funding, the organization said it might face a massive shortfall in its budget for the 2008 fiscal year, which could force it to abandon more than 800,000 impoverished people who are dependent on its food aid programs.

Spokesperson John Rivera says the situation is very serious, because once funding is delayed and a program is stopped, it becomes difficult to start up again.

Contingency plans

U.S. law stipulates that 75% of food aid resources should go to programs that relieve chronic hunger, however only 25% has been delivered in recent years, with most of it having been used for emergencies.

Catholic Relief Services argues that while it is obviously necessary to respond to emergencies, the efforts should not undermine long-term programs that help millions of people feed themselves and their families.

“Basically we’re doing a lot of lobbying on Congress; the big audience we need are congressional representatives,” Rivera explained. “We have staff on the hill that are constantly communicating with the staffs of key Congress people and members of the Senate, and it’s a matter of getting them to increase funding for the food aid in a particular program called Food For Peace.”

The Catholic organization anticipates it will require several hundred million dollars in order to maintain its programs at the same level it provided in the 2006 fiscal year.

Regarding the Food For Peace program, Rivera says “the U.S. government funds to the tune of about $1.2 billion per year and we’re thinking they’re going to have to increase that by between $100-300 million, which is a drop in the bucket in terms of the U.S. budget, but it is still a lot of money.”

Filed under: Caritas, Catholic Relief Services,

Fighting the Scourge of Human Trafficking

Fighting the Scourge of Human Trafficking
Women Religious Combat New Form of Slavery

ROME, OCT. 22, 2007 ( On the 200th anniversary of the U.K.’s abolition of the slave trade, which led to the end of transatlantic trafficking of human beings, women religious from 26 countries gathered to fight a new form of enslavement.

The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and the Italian Union of Major Superiors co-sponsored a five-day seminar in Rome last week titled “Building a Network: The Prophetic Role of Women Religious in the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons.”

All continents were represented at the Oct. 15-20 congress, which launched the International Network of Religious Against Trafficking in Persons (INRATIP), dedicated to strengthening the global fight against sexual, labor and organ trafficking.

Sister Susan Malone of Los Angeles said women religious are not naive about the task they are taking on, and are prepared for the long haul. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that between 700,000 and 2 million women are trafficked annually across international borders.

Pointing to history, Sister Malone said that women religious have always tackled large social problems, and human trafficking is the new call.

Sister Patricia Egbebulem of Nigeria told ZENIT that “this work is not pretty, not rosy,” but women religious have an advantage in understanding the situation since they are approached by victims in dire need who see a religious sister as someone to trust.

Presidential support

U.S. President George Bush sent a note to the gathering, in which he said that “human trafficking is one of the worst offenses against human dignity; it is a modern-day form of slavery, treating women and children as commodities for sale to the highest bidder.”
“As members of the global community,” the president continued, “we are called by conscience and compassion to bring this cruel practice to an end. Those gathered for this seminar are helping to fight this great evil by harnessing the energy and resources of individuals guided by faith and dedicated to the cause of justice.”

Bush added, “Your efforts reflect the very best of the human spirit and help build a world where every life is respected.”

Filed under: Migration, Social Justice

NEED FOR POLITICIANS INSPIRED BY IDEALS: 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical "Populorum Progressio."


VATICAN CITY, OCT 18, 2007 (VIS) – Made public today was the text of an address delivered by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland, at the United Nations headquarters in New York for the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical “Populorum Progressio.”

Archbishop Martin began his English-language talk by recalling how “it was the challenge of addressing the needs of the poorest nations and their peoples which led the Pope to write his Encyclical.”

“Populorum Progressio,” said the archbishop, was “the first social Encyclical to be written after Vatican Council II, an event which had among its aims that of establishing a new way of looking at the relationship between the Church and the world.”

“Authentic development is one of the key concepts of ‘Populorum Progressio’,” he continued, indicating that such a concept “also touches on the very nature of the human person and the response we need to make to his or her needs.”

“Were Pope Paul here with us today he would certainly be saying thanks to all those who have given themselves in the service of humanity within the U.N. system. He would surely also certainly be making remarks on the slow progress of U.N. reform. We need a well-functioning U.N. Today’s possibilities for inter-connectivity among peoples offer new and innovative ways of cooperation, also within the U.N. system.”

“In talking about responsibility for development and of international cooperation,” said Archbishop Martin, “the Encyclical “consistently stresses the role of public authorities. This recalls today’s debate about both good governance and the important role of politics.”

“Politics,” he concluded, “is an essential dimension of the construction of society. We need around the world a new revival of politics. Around the world we need a new generation of politicians inspired by ideals, but also capable of taking the risks involved in transmitting those ideals into the ‘possible,’ through the optimum use of resources and talents to foster the good of all.”

Filed under: Papal Teachings, Politics



VATICAN CITY, OCT 17, 2007 (VIS) – At the end of today’s general audience which was celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope recalled the fact that today marks the “International Day for the Eradication of Poverty,” an annual event recognized by the United Nations.

Certain peoples, said the Holy Father, “still live in conditions of extreme poverty. The disparity between rich and poor has become more evident and more disturbing, even within the most economically advanced nations. This worrying situation appeals to the conscience of mankind because the conditions being suffered by such a large number of people are such as to offend the dignity of human beings and, as a consequence, to compromise the authentic and harmonious progress of the world community. I encourage, then, an increase in efforts to eliminate the causes of poverty and the tragic consequences deriving from it.”


Filed under: Economic Policy, Social Doctrine,