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Friday, January 30, 2009

"Fighting Poverty to Build Peace"

This is Pope Benedict XVI's message for the 2009 celebration of the World Day of Peace.

We are giving you some excerpts here so as to share with you the Pope's inspiring words that speak the motives for Anihan's mission and your collaboration in it: either through your donations to the scholarship fund, or by purchasing Anihan Goodies or recommending our products to possible buyers, or even by simply telling a high school graduate who lacks financial resources about the Anihan scholarship.

Back in 1993, my venerable Predecessor Pope John Paul II, in his Message for the World Day of Peace that year, drew attention to the negative repercussions for peace when entire populations live in poverty... “Our world”, he wrote, “shows increasing evidence of another grave threat to peace: many individuals and indeed whole peoples are living today in conditions of extreme poverty. (no. 1)
The Pope then begins to show how, in our highly globalized world, it is necessary to make use of all positive contributions from the different fields to understand the varied causes and consequences of poverty, and to come up with solutions that will address it while respecting the human dignity of poor person.

...Yet the reference to globalization should also alert us to the spiritual and moral implications of the question, urging us, in our dealings with the poor, to set out from the clear recognition that we all share in a single divine plan: we are called to form one family in which all – individuals, peoples and nations – model their behaviour according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility. (no. 2)

...Incentives are needed for establishing efficient participatory institutions, and support is needed in fighting crime and fostering a culture of legality. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that policies which place too much emphasis on assistance underlie many of the failures in providing aid to poor countries. Investing in the formation of people and developing a specific and well-integrated culture of enterprise would seem at present to be the right approach in the medium and long term. (no. 11)
As we are getting to discover, Pope Benedict XVI is soft-spoken but clear and direct in his teachings:

In fact we often consider only the superficial and instrumental causes of poverty without attending to those harboured within the human heart, like greed and narrow vision... What the fight against poverty really needs are men and women who live in a profoundly fraternal way and are able to accompany individuals, families and communities on journeys of authentic human development. (no. 13)
We end with this part of the Holy Father's conclusion:

In the Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, John Paul II warned of the need to “abandon a mentality in which the poor – as individuals and as peoples – are considered a burden, as irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced.” The poor, he wrote, “ask for the right to share in enjoying material goods and to make good use of their capacity for work, thus creating a world that is more just and prosperous for all”. (no. 14)

...At the start of the New Year, then, I extend to every disciple of Christ and to every person of good will a warm invitation to expand their hearts to meet the needs of the poor and to take whatever practical steps are possible in order to help them. The truth of the axiom cannot be refuted: “to fight poverty is to build peace.” (no. 15)
Read the whole text of the Holy Father's message of peace

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