Holy See to UN: What About Bailout Money for Poor?


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NEW YORK, MARCH 25, 2010 ( The Holy See is noting that the countries who found bailout money to save financial institutions in the economic crisis should also have resources for helping the poor.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in New York, stated this Wednesday in an address before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

The address was delivered before the 4th High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development under the theme "The Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration on Financing for Development: Status of Implementation and Tasks Ahead."

The prelate noted that the "devastating impact of the recent financial crisis on the world's most vulnerable populations" is "a concern shared by governments and citizens all over the world."

"Indeed," he continued, "the dark shadow of this crisis is likely to frustrate efforts made so far to help reduce poverty and only add to the skyrocketing numbers living in extreme poverty."

On the positive side, the archbishop noted, the crisis has "given rise to unprecedented international political cooperation, evident in the three successive high-level G-20 meetings in Washington, London, and Pittsburgh during 2009."

"These meetings were able to reach agreement on emergency measures to reignite the world economy, including fiscal and monetary stimulus packages that have prevented a global catastrophe," he affirmed.

"Nevertheless," Archbishop Migliore added, "the stabilization of some economies, or the recovery of others, does not mean that the crisis is over."

"Indeed, the whole world economy, where countries are highly interdependent, will never be able to function smoothly if the conditions that generated the crisis persist, especially when fundamental inequalities in income and wealth among individuals and between nations continue," he asserted.

Moral imperative

Thus, the Holy See representative emphasized the view "that we cannot wait for a definitive and permanent recovery of the global economy to take action."

He explained that "a significant reason is that the re-activation of the economies of the world's poorest people will surely help guarantee a universal and sustainable recovery."

"But the most important reason," the prelate added, "is the moral imperative: not to leave a whole generation, nearly a fifth of the world's population, in extreme poverty."

He underlined the "urgent need to reform, strengthen and modernize the whole funding system for developing countries as well as U.N. programs, including the specialized agencies and regional organizations, making them more efficient, transparent, and well coordinated, both internationally and locally."

"In the same vein," the archbishop added, "the crisis has highlighted the urgent need to proceed with the reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, whose structures and procedures must reflect the realities of today's world and no longer those of the post World War II period."

"The international community, through the World Bank and relevant multilateral agencies, should continue to give priority to the fight against poverty," he asserted.

Archbishop Migliore acknowledged that "at the end of World War II, the international community was able to adopt a comprehensive system that would ensure not only peace but also avoid a repetition of global economic disruption."

He continued: "The current global crisis offers a similar opportunity requiring a comprehensive approach, based on resources, knowledge transfer and on institutions.

"To achieve this, all nations, without exception, need to commit themselves to a renewed multilateralism."

"At the same time," the prelate pointed out, "the effectiveness of measures taken to overcome the current crisis should always be assessed by their ability to solve the primary problem."

He concluded, "We should not forget that the same world that could find, within a few weeks, trillions of dollars to rescue banks and financial investment institutions, has not yet managed to find 1% of that amount for the needs of the hungry -- starting with the $3 billion needed to provide meals to school children who are hungry or the $5 billion needed to support the emergency food fund of the World Food Program."