Read My Lips

Pope Benedict on Globalization

What did Pope Benedict view as the responsibilities of the world’s rich countries to the poor?

Pope Benedict XVI (Credit: miqu77-Shutterstock)

Takeaways



Pope Benedict XVI serves as the 265th Pope — head of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as Sovereign of the Vatican City State — until the end of this month. One of his more remarkable pronouncements was the Encyclical Letter, published shortly before the July 2009 G8 Summit in Italy, in which he laid out his views on globalization and poverty. The Globalist presents his most compelling points.

How do you look at the global economy?

"The world’s wealth is growing in absolute terms, but inequalities are on the increase."

Can globalization have a positive effect?

"The processes of globalization, suitably understood and directed, open up the unprecedented possibility of large-scale redistribution of wealth on a worldwide scale."

What’s the flipside?

"If badly directed, however, it can lead to an increase in poverty and inequality — and could even trigger a global crisis."

Does this just apply to developing countries?

"In rich countries, new sectors of society are succumbing to poverty and new forms of poverty are emerging."

And how could rich countries help poorer ones?

"On the part of rich countries, there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care."

What about the broader importance of government aid?

"Cooperation for development must not be concerned exclusively with the economic dimension: It offers a wonderful opportunity for encounter between cultures and peoples."

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What can ordinary citizens do?

"Global interconnectedness has led to the emergence of a new political power, that of consumers and their associations. It is good for people to realize that purchasing is always a moral — and not simply economic — act."

What about the responsibility of business?

"Today’s international economic scene, marked by grave deviations and failures, requires a profoundly new way of understanding business enterprise. Old models are disappearing, but promising new ones are taking shape on the horizon."

And the politicians?

"Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility."

And individuals?

"The current crisis obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment, to build on positive experiences and to reject negative ones."

And finally, what should all groups realize?

"It should be stressed that progress of a merely economic and technological kind is insufficient. Development needs above all to be true and integral. The mere fact of emerging from economic backwardness, though positive in itself, does not resolve the complex issues of human advancement."

All quotes are from Pope Benedict XVI’s third encyclical, Charity in Truth, issued on June 29, 2009.

Each edition of “Read My Lips” presents a series of quotes by the featured individual at a specific time. However, it is a “virtual interview” only, insofar as we have added questions in order to provide context for the thoughts expressed.

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