The Holy See
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Monterrey, Mexico
Thursday, 21 March 2002


Mr. President:

This is truly a momentous occasion. World leaders and experts in the field of financing and development have come together to discuss those issues that will help lead to finding realistic and workable ways to address the elimination of poverty and the advancement of the human family.

The very fact that this meeting is being held is, in a way, an achievement in itself. The journey to Monterrey has its beginnings in 1997 with the adoption of the Agenda for Development and has brought us to reflect and design ways to finance development. Also, during each of the recent United Nations Conferences, Summits and Special Sessions, discussions in the areas of economic and financial development have been held. At the Millennium Summit, Government leaders recommitted themselves to meeting a series of development goals, among them, the eradication of poverty and providing access to basic social services including health, education and clean water.

Mr. President:

Too many families in today’s world are forced to be concerned with survival and do not have the luxury of participating as actors in their development; too many people are forced to migrate, too many people continue to be burdened by absolute poverty and live in countries where debt burdens make it impossible to gain access to basic social services and social safeguards. In this perspective, financing for development must touch all aspects of life, the individual, the family, the community and the world.

The events of the past few months, played-out before our eyes have forced all of us to recognize the oneness of humanity. These events which continue to have an effect on our lives and touch the lives of so many, bind us together on our common path toward enhancing the well-being of all people. Everyone hopes to witness a renewed collective desire to help those living in poverty-transcending ideological, political and geographic boundaries.

Development is first and foremost a question of people. Human beings are at the centre of our concerns for sustainable development. Through development, the people of the world are offered opportunities for advancement. These opportunities are often the product of human ingenuity and through development the human spirit of ingenuity can be released for the benefit of all humankind.

Historically, financing has had its place within the discussion of development. However, in many cases, the task is too great for one community or nation to accomplish it on its own. The underlying challenge is the adoption of an attitude of solidarity between and among all people.

Financial decisions and their sound planning clearly contribute efficaciously to development and, in that sense, to the common global good. Good intentions and good will, while essential components, will not be sufficient to bring about true and sustainable development. Financing for development is a mix of good intentions, resources and varied approaches with the potential to contribute to the development and well-being of each and every person.

The Holy See has constantly shown its concern for the social and economic development of the world’s people and the means to achieve that development . More than one hundred years ago, Pope Leo XIII issued the first great social Encyclical Letter, Rerum Novarum. In it, the Pope stated the ideas that would become an inspiration for social policy for years to come:

"Every program geared to increased production must have no other end in view than to serve the human person, namely: to lessen inequalities, to remove discrimination, to free men from the bonds of servitude and to enable them to improve their condition in the temporal order, achieve moral development, and perfect their spiritual endowments. When we speak of development, care must be given both to social progress and economic growth."1

In 1967, in his Encyclical Letter, Populorum Progressio, Pope Paul VI reinforced the position of the Church regarding the connection between peace and social and economic development: "Therefore, when we combat misery, and struggle against injustice we are providing not only for man's prosperity but also for his spiritual and moral development and are therefore promoting the welfare of the whole human race."2

For this reason, the Holy See continues to involve itself in the on-going process of the development of peoples. Twenty years after Populorum Progressio, Pope John Paul II addressed the work that had been accomplished in the recent past and looked forward to the work that would ensue, including the work of this Conference:

"It should be noted that in spite of the praiseworthy efforts made in the last two decades by the more developed or developing nations and the international organizations to find a way out of the situation, or at least to remedy some of its symptoms, the conditions have become notably worse. Responsibility for this deterioration is due to various causes. Notable among them are undoubtedly grave instances of omissions on the part of the developing nations themselves, and especially on the part of those holding economic and political power. Nor can we pretend not to see the responsibility of the developed nations, which have not always, at least in due measure, felt the duty to help countries separated from the affluent world to which they themselves belong. Moreover, one must denounce the existence of economic, financial and social mechanisms which, although they are manipulated by people, often function almost automatically, thus accentuating the situation of wealth for some and poverty for the rest. These mechanisms, which are maneuvered directly or indirectly by the more developed countries, by their very functioning favor the interests of the people manipulating them and in the end they suffocate or condition the economies of the less developed countries. Later on these mechanisms will have to be subjected to a careful analysis under the ethical-moral aspect."3

Mr. President:

The Holy See strongly believes that any effort in favor of development must analyze the moral ramifications of economic activity and its financing in light of a comprehensive vision of the human person. This is an absolutely essential interplay, a moral imperative, which has all too often been neglected in the dialogue over the ethics of economic life. A true concern for the development of peoples cannot afford to be reductionistic, but must respect the genuine claims of both economics and morality. Human dignity must be the central value for the financing of development. Such an authentic concern must prize the close relationship between the centrality of the human person and economic activity, stressing the subjective character of human work and its place in human creativity. As Pope John Paul II said, "The moral causes of prosperity...reside in a constellation of virtues: industriousness, competence, order, honesty, initiative, frugality, thrift, spirit of service, keeping one’s word, daring-in short, love for work well done. No system or social structure can resolve, as if by magic, the problem of poverty outside these virtues."4

One of the fundamental ethical principles of the social teaching of the Holy See is the principle of the universal purpose of created goods. A clear expression of this principle was proposed by Pope Paul VI: "God destined the earth with all that it contains for the use of all men and nations, in such a way that created things in fair share should accrue to all men under the leadership of justice with charity as a companion. All other rights, whatever they are, including property rights and the right of free trade must be subordinated to this norm; they must not hinder it, but must rather expedite its application. It must be considered a serious and urgent social obligation to refer these rights to their original purpose."5

The world of today is overshadowed by a fragile peace and marked by broken promises. Too many people live lives without hope, with little opportunity toward realizing a better future for themselves, their children and future generations.

It is the search for a healing of this lack of hope, this darkness of despair, that must fuel the continuing work of the world community, and which helped Governments to declare at the World Summit for Social Development, "We gather here to commit ourselves, our Governments and our nations to enhancing social development throughout the world so that all men and women, especially those living in poverty, may exercise the rights, utilize the resources and share the responsibilities that enable them to lead satisfying lives and to contribute to the well-being of their families, their communities and humankind."6

Governments cannot afford to allow the Monterrey Consensus document, nor the results of the discussions and deliberations held during these days to be forgotten or set aside. We cannot allow the work of this Conference to end here, but rather we must see this as the renewal of commitment that it truly is. And finally, the Family of Nations cannot allow one more day to pass wherein a real attempt to meet goals and make measurable progress toward the eradication of poverty are not pursued with all of the energy and resolve that can muster.

Good progress has been made in the discussions that have led to the successful outcome of this Conference. Let those who watch what we have done and look forward to the next steps in implementation and cooperation, realize that there is hope, that there is commitment, and that there is an honest movement toward the elimination of poverty, the development of all peoples and societies, and a good foundation for building a better future for all humanity.

Thank you, Mr. President.

1 Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum "On the Condition of the Working Classes" (34), 15 May 1891.

2 Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio "Promoting the Development of Peoples", (76), 26 March 1967.

3 Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, "On Social Concern" (16), 30 December 1987.

4 Pope John Paul II, "Adress to the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean", Origins 16 (April 16, 1987): 775.

5 Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio "Promoting the Development of Peoples", (22), 26 March 1967.

6 The Copenhagen Declaration, (9) World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, Denmark, 6-12 March 1995.


*L'Osservatore Romano 27.3.2002 p.2.

L'Osservatore Romano. Weekly Edition in English n.14 p.4.