Time to end scandal of hunger, Benedict says

Giving his annual new year address to the Vatican diplomatic community, Pope Benedict yesterday condemned a worsening "scandal of famine" which he said is "unacceptable in a world which has the means and knowledge to tackle it".

ANSA reports that the Pope urged the Western world to help by "accelerating the process of cancelling or reducing the debt of the poorest countries".

This should be done without imposing structural reform measures which would be "disastrous for the most vulnerable populations", Pope Benedict added.

The pope also called for lifestyle changes to "eliminate the structural causes of the world economy's malfunctions" and to correct models of growth which were unable to "ensure respect for the environment and future development".

In his address to the 175 ambassadors, the pope referred to 28 countries and their problems and prospects.

Commenting on war-torn Darfur in western Sudan, the Pope said "the international community has appeared impotent for the past four years despite attempts to relieve the traumatised people and find a political solution".

He also appealed to Somalia and Ethiopia to lay down their arms and "choose the path of dialogue". In Rwanda, he said he hoped the "long process of reconciliation" after the 1994 genocide would yield "justice, truth and forgiveness".

The Pope called on Cuba to "open up to the world" but added that the world should also "open up to Cuba".

He said he hoped the economic expansion and increasing international role of India and China would bring benefits to their peoples.

Turning to the Middle East, the 79-year-old pope said "partial or unilateral solutions" were doomed to failure and that peace between Israelis and Palestinians would only come through "negotiated and comprehensive solutions".

He called for respect for the Palestinians' right to a "free and sovereign state", Israel's right to "live in peace" and Lebanon's right to independence.

Benedict XVI also asked Iran to consider the "legitimate concerns of the international community" over its nuclear program.

He went on to condemn the "substantial increase in violence and terrorist attacks" in Afghanistan and the "fragility of the democratisation processes" in East Timor.

Pope urges West to tackle famine (ANSA, 8/1/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
International Hunger Facts (Bread for the world)
World Food Program Hunger Map

Benedict calls for radical change to protect people and planet (CathNews, 13/11/06)
Pope denounces 'imbalance' of wealth (CathNews, 27/9/04)
Columbans warn Vatican against GM food solution to world hunger (CathNews, 15/9/04)

9 Jan 2007

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