||MANIFESTO OF THE CATHOLIC ASSOCIATIONS TO THE
LEADERS OF THE G-8
Human beings lead their lives mediated by intelligence and will;
they do not exist only physically. There is something in them much richer and
more elevated, a spiritual vitality in consciousness and in love. They are thus
in some ways a universe unto themselves, a microcosm in which the larger
universe can be entirely contained by means of consciousness; through love they
may give themselves freely to others, as if the others were themselves. It is
not possible to find the equivalent of this relationship in the entire physical
-- Jacques Maritain
We are all persons and human life is a universal value.
To guarantee life and to defend it in its dignity is the
political responsibility that the international community, together with each
one of us, is called to exercise in order to achieve the common good.
Today in the world the dignity of human life is violated. There
are many ways in which this happens, from war to poverty, from the
knowledge gap benefiting some to the monopolistic power of a few.
We feel the duty to belong to a family, the human family, that stretches across
national borders and economic logic.
We believe that all are truly responsible for all, and that we
cannot remain indifferent in the face of the clamorous differences that exist
in the lives of the people of our planet. We affirm that every human being is a
resource, a precious good for others, who in turn asks to be accompanied and
helped on the path towards complete fulfillment. No person may be considered
simply a passive economic subject whose value is measured by the capacity to
We are here.
We are here to recall that you are us. You, the responsible
leaders of our nations, are our representatives. You have a great
responsibility. You are not the government of the world, but what you decide
inevitably has repercussions on many, also those outside the borders of our
We are here because we too have a dream: We do not wish any
longer to be the rich who see the poor as objects of help. We want to be
citizens of the world and of a community of solidarity that gives to everyone
the same right to have the necessities of life, and that offers opportunity.
We are here because we want to realize our dream.
For this reason we present to you, who are our representatives,
requests that we see as a point of departure so that every person, today and
tomorrow, can live in authentic freedom, solidarity and
The dignity of human life is offended on our planet by
conflicts that draw in vulnerable populations. Women and men, children, adults
and the elderly, in uniform or in civilian dress, are often unconscious actors
in scripts written, more or less intentionally, by other hands, in other
languages and in other places. We urge that you, our representatives, labor
with transparency and determination for:
- Abolition of war as an instrument for the solution of
conflicts. Commit yourself as states to not using force for the resolution of
controversies, whether internal or international.
- Activation of a credible and authentic process of reform in the
United Nations that reinforces its democratic structures, its authority and its
efficiency, in particular in its responsibility to be the principle actor in
favor of peace in the world.
- A priority to local approaches, valuing the contributions of
non-governmental organizations, and confronting all conflicts, even those that
are internal, when they violate the liberty of civilian populations.
- Authentic efforts to end the arms trade, starting with open
information about all the mechanisms of sales and purchase. There must be no
public funding given to those who produce and sell arms.
- No wasting of money. We do not want resources to be thrown away
on useless defense projects, such as a space shield, but utilized
for eliminating the causes that generate conflicts, above all poverty.
The burden of external debt of the countries of the south
compromises the dignity of human life of millions of persons. Precious and
scarce financial resources are utilized by impoverished countries for paying
their creditors, who are the countries of the north that is, us! On the
occasion of the Jubilee, we asked you for courageous actions. You heard us only
in part. It horrifies us to think that money that we are still collecting,
however much it may have been reduced from previous years, is subtracted from
efforts to give houses, food, medicines and schooling to persons who for us are
just like ourselves.
Therefore we ask again, with emphasis, for:
- Cancellation of all debt accumulated up to June 19, 1999, the
date of the grand manifestation at Cologne. In your language, this means moving
the date that divides debt that may be cancelled from debt that cannot be
cancelled (the cut off date).
- A change in the parameters for international initiatives for
the most gravely impoverished countries. We want fundamental goods and services
to be assured in impoverished nations for all citizens. Only the money that
remains after these expenses may be utilized for paying debt.
- An agreement with indebted countries and representatives of
civil society in the south and the north for the institution of a Fair
and Transparent Process of International Arbitration, to evaluate in
terms of justice the proper amount of debt in the various nations. The
remission of debt is a question of justice before it is a question of
On our planet the dignity of human life is offended by the
scandalous difference between life in rich countries and in poor.
One child in twenty in Africa dies before reaching the age of
five. One child in two does not go to school.
It is a horrifying situation, one for which we, and you, are
also responsible. We commit ourselves to new lifestyles, more just and more
responsible, but at the same time, so that you represent our voice, we ask that
you commit our nations to:
- Honor quickly the commitment, given lip service but never
maintained, to finance development aid with 0.7% of the Gross Domestic Product
of our countries. Today the average is less than half of this standard.
- Promote and reinforce, in international organizations, the use
of programs of poverty reduction that feature an authentic co-involvement of
- Favor with support, both financial and technical, the action of
impoverished nations so that they may guarantee to their entire population the
right to health care and education.
A light that rises
To construct the future: globalize solidarity and
The dignity of life on our planet, in the north as well
as the south, can be safeguarded only through a strong, shared and respected
system of rules, in which the strongest do not have greater rights, but the
most weak. This is not what happens today in the world. You are our
representatives. We therefore ask you not to hide behind facile justifications,
but to respond with transparency to these requests.
The Market between liberty and responsibility
- We ask that a system of rules in international commerce be
created that allows all countries, in particular the most impoverished, to
offer on the market their goods at an equal price, abolishing barriers,
starting with the nations of the G-8. For food products, a mechanism of
regulation is needed for production and distribution that defines production
quotas for the nations and guarantees price stability.
- We want a genuinely free market, in which all are free to buy
knowing with precision what is being offered to them, and in which all are
given possibilities to sell their products. This is not what happens today.
- We want an immediate and concrete commitment to denounce
fiscal paradises. Commit yourselves in the various international
organizations for the definition and publication of lists of countries that
permit the recycling of dirty money and that offer fiscal shelter for savage
acts of speculation.
- We want, starting with our countries, a tax on international
currency transactions (like the Tobin Tax) that would render speculative
international transfers of money costly, and that would offer resources for
Work as an instrument for the dignity of human life
- We want international legislation that impedes the exploitation
of persons in the workplace to be applied, and improved. A lower and more
competitive cost of labor does not have to mean humiliation.
The environment must be global
- We ask that the Kyoto Accords be confirmed immediately, and
that future strategies to reinforce the defense of creation be identified in a
Economic liberty and democracy
- We want a free economy in which positions of monopoly are
impeded, such as those assumed by some multi-national corporations capable of
changing the market and hiding information on their activities.
- In the same way we ask that free information be guaranteed. The
countries of the G-8 must promote laws that guarantee at the national and
international levels a plurality of media and of publishers, prohibiting
monopolies, in order to preserve responsible liberty for all citizens.
- We request transparent information also about the
characteristics of food products in general and, in particularly, of
genetically modified organisms.
Science for all
- We ask that public research in the area of health be well
financed, in order to make possible the production of pharmaceuticals for the
diseases spread among the poorest populations.
- In particualr we ask the efforts be multiplied to render the
drugs for the care of AIDS accessible to all who are infected, in Africa and
everywhere, beginning with pregnant women before and after birth.
- We want rules that permit the production and distribution of
medicines at costs that are sustainable for the most impoverished populations.
This means confronting the question of reform of intellectual property
At Tor Vergata we listened to the words of the Pope:
Dear friends, I see in you the sentinels of the
morning (Isaiah 21:11-12), at this dawn of the third millennium. In the
course of the century that is dying, youth such as yourselves were convoked in
mass rallies to learn to hate, were sent to fight one against the other. Today
you are convoked here in order to affirm that in the new century you will not
allow yourselves to be instruments of violence or destruction; you will defend
peace, paying the price in person if necessary. You will not resign yourselves
to a world in which other human beings die of hunger, remain illiterate, or
lack work. You will defend life in every moment of its earthly development, and
you will try with all your energy to make this land ever more habitable for
This is exactly what we want to do.
National Catholic Reporter, Posted July 25,