Ahead of the G8 summit in Italy this week, Benedict XVI has called on world leaders during this global recession to continue and strenghten aid to underdeveloped nations.

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G8 Summit

L’Aquila, Italy – July 2009

The Pope made this invitation in a letter addressed to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in view of the Group of Eight summit to take place this week in L’Aquila, Italy. Silvio Berlusconi will be hosting the leaders of the United States, France, Britain, Japan, Canada, Germany and Russia in the town of LAquila, which was hit by a devastating earthquake on April 6th.

In the text, the Holy Father deals with the challenges posed by the global crisis and calls on world political leaders to “convert the model of global development” to the values of solidarity and of “charity in truth.” Charity in truth is the theme at the center of the new papal encyclical that will be published on Tuesday, the eve of the meeting in L’Aquila.

In the recent past, the Pontiff said, a majority of less developed countries were able to enjoy a period of growth that allowed them to hope for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

The Pope continued,

“Unfortunately, the financial and economic crisis that since 2008 has involved the whole planet, has changed the panorama in such a way that there is a real danger not only that the hopes for overcoming extreme poverty will be extinguished, but indeed that populations that until now enjoyed a minimum of well-being will fall into misery.”

Benedict XVI observed that the present economic crisis threatens to become a pretext for cancelling or drastically reducing international aid, especially for Africa and other less economically developed countries.

The Pope thus called on the G-8 and governments of the whole world to make sure that “development assistance, above all that directed toward the improvement of human resources, be maintaine d and strengthened, not only despite the crisis, but precisely because of it.”

In particular the Holy Father recommended evaluating the ethics of measures proposed for getting out of the crisis.

In this respect he invited the leaders to ensure work for everyone, to bring about an equitable commercial system, and to “reform the international financial architecture,” guaranteeing the availability of public and private credit “in the service of production and work,” above all in the poorest countries.

Finally, the Pontiff stressed, commitments should be considered and weighed by the whole international community, especially through the United Nations, where “every nation, whatever its political and economic weight, can legitimately express itself in a situation of equality with others.”