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Pope sends letter to Tony Abbott ahead of G20 summit

Pope Francis

Facing poverty: Pope Francis leads a meeting in the archbishop’s residence in Assisi, Italy, on October 4 with people living in poverty. In a message to leaders at the G20, Pope Francis has reminded them that the lives of many people around the world were at stake behind the decisions they make at their meetings.
Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

POPE Francis in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned that a “mindset in which individuals are ultimately discarded will never achieve peace or justice”.

The letter was sent on the occasion of the upcoming G20 summit, which will be held this weekend in Brisbane. The Holy Father said the meeting would provide an opportunity for the world to appreciate “Oceania’s significant contributions to the management of world affairs”.

The Pope said the upcoming meeting came at a crucial time when the demands of steady employment needed to be met by fair taxation and transparency in the financial sector. He also called on the heads of state and governments “not to forget that many lives are at stake behind these political and technical discussions”.

“Throughout the world, the G20 countries included, there are far too many women and men suffering from severe malnutrition, a rise in the number of the unemployed, an extremely high percentage of young people without work and an increase in social exclusion which can lead to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists,” Pope Francis wrote.

“In addition, there are constant assaults on the natural environment, the result of unbridled consumerism, and this will have serious consequences for the world economy.”

Expressing his hope that a productive consensus can arise, the Pope commented on the current situation of global security and peace, particularly in the Middle East. He also called for a broader agreement between the countries, through the United Nations legal system, to end aggression against minorities, religious and ethnic groups.

The agreement, he said, should “lead to eliminating the root causes of terrorism, which has reached proportions hitherto unimaginable; these include poverty, underdevelopment and exclusion”.

The Pope also said there was a need for education, that religion may not be used to justify acts of violence.

“The situation in the Middle East has revived a debate about the responsibility of the international community to protect individuals and peoples from extreme attacks on human rights and a total disregard for humanitarian law,” he wrote.

“The international community, and in particular the G20 member states, should also give thought to the need to protect citizens of all countries from forms of aggression that are less evident but equally real and serious.”

The Pope referred to what he called “abuses in the financial system” that led to the 2008 financial crisis. He warned that a mindset in which people were easily thrown aside “will never achieve peace or justice”.

“Responsibility for the poor and the marginalised must therefore be an essential element of any political decision, whether on the national or the international level,” he wrote.

Concluding his letter, the Pope expressed his appreciation for Mr Abbott’s work and conveyed his “prayerful encouragement” for the outcome of the G20 Summit.


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