The Holy Father’s message for World Day of Peace – 1st Jan – is titled “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace”. It is seen as a preview of the upcoming full encyclical on social doctrine.

Click on link to download full text of “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace”.

Pope Benedict XVI arrives at Rome's basilica church di San Lorenzo (Saint Laurence outside the Walls) on November 30, 2008. AFP/Getty Images

Previews themes in upcoming encyclical on social doctrine

According to Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, some points from this message will be further developed in the encyclical, which he previously indicated could be called “Caritas in Veritate” (Charity in Truth).

The Cardinal suggested that the Pope’s third encyclical could be published as early as the beginning of next year, implying it will be released in the midst of the ongoing global economic crisis.

In offering a synthesis of the papal message, Cardinal Martino said one of the most interesting themes was the originality in his approach to globalization.

The text “returns to and develops the message of John Paul II for the World Day of Peace 1993, which explained the reciprocal connections and conditions existing between poverty and peace,” the cardinal noted.

Benedict XVI “shows us how peace and the fight against poverty intersect: a given that constitutes one of the most stimulating assumptions, giving a proper cultural, social and political focus to the complex themes tied to the achievement of peace in our day, which is characterized by the phenomenon of globalization,” he added.

The Vatican official said the Pope above all takes into consideration “the role of the social sciences to measure the phenomenon of poverty,” which provide data measuring the material reality of poverty.

However, Cardinal Martino explained, poverty is more than a material phenomenon.

“In advanced wealthy societies, the phenomenon of affective, moral and spiritual poverty is widespread: Many persons feel marginalized and live with various forms of malaise despite their economic prosperity,” he said. “This is what is known as ‘moral underdevelopment.'”

The message, the cardinal concluded “establishes two parts in the theme of the fight against poverty” — the first deals with the moral implications ties to poverty and the second with the need for greater solidarity in the fight against this global problem.


Extract from Papal Message


1 JANUARY 2009


1. Once again, as the new year begins, I want to extend good wishes for peace to people everywhere. With this Message I would like to propose a reflection on the theme: Fighting Poverty to Build Peace. Back in 1993, my venerable Predecessor Pope John Paul II, in his Message for the World Day of Peace that year, drew attention to the negative repercussions for peace when entire populations live in poverty. Poverty is often a contributory factor or a compounding element in conflicts, including armed ones. In turn, these conflicts fuel further tragic situations of poverty. “Our world”, he wrote, “shows increasing evidence of another grave threat to peace: many individuals and indeed whole peoples are living today in conditions of extreme poverty. The gap between rich and poor has become more marked, even in the most economically developed nations. This is a problem which the conscience of humanity cannot ignore, since the conditions in which a great number of people are living are an insult to their innate dignity and as a result are a threat to the authentic and harmonious progress of the world community” [1].

2. In this context, fighting poverty requires attentive consideration of the complex phenomenon of globalization. This is important from a methodological standpoint, because it suggests drawing upon the fruits of economic and sociological research into the many different aspects of poverty. Yet the reference to globalization should also alert us to the spiritual and moral implications of the question, urging us, in our dealings with the poor, to set out from the clear recognition that we all share in a single divine plan: we are called to form one family in which all – individuals, peoples and nations – model their behaviour according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility.

This perspective requires an understanding of poverty that is wide-ranging and well articulated. If it were a question of material poverty alone, then the social sciences, which enable us to measure phenomena on the basis of mainly quantitative data, would be sufficient to illustrate its principal characteristics. Yet we know that other, non-material forms of poverty exist which are not the direct and automatic consequence of material deprivation. For example, in advanced wealthy societies, there is evidence of marginalization, as well as affective, moral and spiritual poverty, seen in people whose interior lives are disoriented and who experience various forms of malaise despite their economic prosperity. On the one hand, I have in mind what is known as “moral underdevelopment”[2], and on the other hand the negative consequences of “superdevelopment”[3]. Nor can I forget that, in so-called “poor” societies, economic growth is often hampered by cultural impediments which lead to inefficient use of available resources. It remains true, however, that every form of externally imposed poverty has at its root a lack of respect for the transcendent dignity of the human person. When man is not considered within the total context of his vocation, and when the demands of a true “human ecology” [4] are not respected, the cruel forces of poverty are unleashed, as is evident in certain specific areas that I shall now consider briefly one by one.

Click on link to download full text of “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace”.

Copyright 2008 ? Libreria Editrice Vaticana