Intervention of the Holy See
Fiftieth Session of the Commission for Social Development
Agenda Item 3(a) Poverty Eradication
New York, 6 February 2012
The rapid economic expansion seen in some regions of the world have lifted millions of people out of poverty over the past two decades. However, this new found economic prosperity is not only challenged by the ongoing financial and economic instability in many corners of the world but has also presented new challenges as countries work to find ways to ensure that economic growth benefits all people within society. Despite these efforts, 36% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.25 per day. The growing inequality between countries and within countries remind us that economic development must not be guided by market forces alone but must be rooted in a moral understanding of the purpose of development and economy.
For too long economic and financial policies have been guided by the pursuit of economic wealth and self-interest rather than the pursuit of a more just and equitable world. This pursuit has sought to replace the human person as the source, center and purpose of economic life by insisting that morality and ethics are not part of economic decision making. This reality has led to the creation of societies in which the poor lack the means for economic prosperity and the more affluent are guided by a consumerist mentality which subjects people to their possessions and immediate gratification.
Instead, what is needed to address poverty and promote a more just and equitable economic order is renewed commitment to the need for economic systems to be guided by ethical values which place the pursuit of human-centered development, the common good, the universal destination of goods and the need for solidarity at its center. In so doing, and guided by these values, we can better work to ensure greater equity in trade, more just and effective development and financial assistance, to promote greater international cooperation in economic and financial systems and to provide assistance to the poor within our societies.
These efforts to address poverty must not only address material poverty but also the moral and spiritual poverty within our communities. This moral and spiritual poverty can be seen in societies in which individuals possess an abundance of material possessions but fail to appreciate the purpose and meaning of life and are unable to affirm their own dignity as persons and become reduced to mere devices in the unceasing cycle of production and consumption.
To address this sense of disillusion and alienation, society and policy makers must not focus only on economic or financial development but must work to promote integral human development which seeks to develop all aspects of a person. One of the most effective and vital means for promoting integral human development is the provision of greater support to the family.
The family is not only the fundamental group unit of society, but is also the primary source for economic, educational, emotional and social development of people. Despite this reality, and as the Secretary-General’s report notes, policies and initiatives focused on supporting the families continue to be under-researched and under-implemented.
The Holy See therefore welcomes the preparations for the upcoming twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and hopes that this anniversary can be a reminder and a source for policy initiatives which place priority properly on supporting the family. In preparation for this meeting and in recognition of the importance of the family, the Pontifical Council for the Family will be hosting the Seventh World Meeting of Families from 30 May to 3 June 2012 in Milan to discuss the theme “Work and Celebration.”
Before I conclude allow me to congratulate you and the bureau on your elections. My Delegation looks forward to working with other delegations during this policy cycle to redouble our efforts to assist those living in all forms of poverty around the world.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.