Skip to content Skip to navigation

Social:

RSS:

Vatican Radio

The voice of the Pope and the Church in dialogue with the World

language:

Vatican \ Speeches

Holy See: Religion as a role to play in the eradication of poverty

Pope Francis attends an interreligious event in January during his Apostolic Journey to Sri Lanka. - ANSA

Pope Francis attends an interreligious event in January during his Apostolic Journey to Sri Lanka. - ANSA

28/03/2015 10:33

(Vatican Radio) The Holy See delegation at the United Nations on Friday co-sponsored a panel on “The Relevance of Interreligious and Inter-Civilizational Dialogue to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.”

During the discussion, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, spoke about the  role  of  religions  and  faith-based  play in the eradication of poverty.

“Though primarily inspired by a spiritual and moral mission, religions and faith-based organizations  care  for  the  flourishing  of  the  entire  human  person,” Archbishop Auza said.

“Because  human progress is an integral part of their vision and mission, besides places of worship they also  construct  community-building  centers,  hospitals,  schools  and  universities. Locally  rooted,  they  have  first-hand  knowledge  of  the  many  forms  of  poverty  and inequalities,” he continued.

Archbishop Auza said religious organizations have both “grassroots-level credibility” and the advantage of being “universally networked.”

In working to lift peoples out of poverty, religions and faith -based organizations fight  to remedy the structural causes of poverty,  injustice  and exclusion,” the Archbishop said. “To cite just one  example, Pope Francis exhorts us to say no to a financial system that rules rather than  serves, a system that produces inequalities rather than shared prosperity.”

 

The full intervention by Archbishop Auza is below

 

Remarks of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza

Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations

at the Consultation on

“The Relevance of Interreligious and Inter-Civilizational Dialogue

to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals”

United Nations, New York, March 27, 2015

 

Excellencies, Distinguished Panelists, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would  like to join the organizers of this Consultation and our fellow co-sponsors in  thanking you  for  your  attendance  today,  as  we  consider  the  importance  of  interreligious, intercultural and inter-civilizational dialogue in fostering human and  social development.  I would like to focus my remarks  on the  theme in connection  with the first  and the  sixteenth sustainable development goals. Thus:

First,  I  would  talk  on  the  role  of  religions  and  faith-based  organizations  in  the achievement of the first and overarching goal of the eradication of poverty; and, then,  I  would  comment  on  the  nexus  between  interreligious,  intercultural  and  intercivilizational  dialogue  and  development  in  the  promotion  of  just  and  peaceful  societies, without which sustainable development will not be able to be achieved.  I  was  recently  invited  to  two  speak  on  two  events  that  had  religion  and  sustainable developments  goals  in  their  titles. 

The  first  was  the  Special  Event  of  the  General Assembly  entitled  “World  Interfaith  Harmony:  Multi-religious  Partnership  for Sustainable Development,” which was held on February 6 at the Economic and Social Council  Chamber.

The  second  was  a  roundtable  on  the  role  of  religions  and  faith-based organizations  in  the  eradication  of  extreme  poverty,  organized  by  the  World  Bank Group on February 18 at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

I  was  wondering  why  a  huge  financial  institution  like  the  World  Bank,  or  a  huge international  organization  like  the  United  Nations,  would  turn  to  religions  and  their organizations to better assure the realization of sustainable development goals. I  would  daringly  suppose  that  these  conferences  were  a  recognition  of  the contributions  of  religions  and  their  organizations  to  the  life  of  individuals  and  of  societies,  in  particular  the  help  they  provide  those  who  are  trying  to  emancipate themselves from various forms of extreme poverty.

In fact, according to the World Bank President, Dr. Jim Kim, even with the rosy growth  forecasts  for the next 15 years, with growths like those between 2000 and pre-crisis 2008,  still the world could not eradicate extreme poverty. From the present 14.5% of the world’s  population extremely poor, the number could  only be reduced to 7% by 2030. However,  with the collaboration of  faith-based  and other civic organizations, we can bring down that  number down to just 3% by 2030. In real numbers, that is a significant contribution.

In spite of their contributions, religions and faith-based organizations do not pretend  to  be  what  they  are  not.  From  the  Catholic  perspective,  religions  and  faith-based  organizations are not economic or political entities; they are neither a parallel World  Bank nor a parallel United Nations, nor identical with  non-faith-based NGOs. Their  strength does not lie in material resources or scientific expertise — which are, indeed,  very useful in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty  —  but in their being a spiritual  force  and  a  moral compass, in their being  “enablers” of  individuals and societies to recognize and respect the inherent dignity of each and every human person.

Though primarily inspired by a spiritual and moral mission, religions and faith-based organizations  care  for  the  flourishing  of  the  entire  human  person.  Because  human progress is an integral part of their vision and mission, besides places of worship they also  construct  community-building  centers,  hospitals,  schools  and  universities. Locally  rooted,  they  have  first-hand  knowledge  of  the  many  forms  of  poverty  and inequalities.  They  have  grassroots-level  credibility  and  evidence-based  expertise. Their  local  presence favors dialogue  among  grassroots  groups. Universally  networked, they are effective advocates for causes like the eradication of extreme poverty and the promotion of just and peaceful societies.

In working to lift peoples out of poverty, religions and faith -based organizations fight  to remedy the structural causes of poverty,  injustice  and exclusion.  To cite just one  example, Pope Francis exhorts us to say no to a financial system that rules rather than  serves, a system that produces inequalities rather than shared prosperity.

Dear friends,

The  nexus  between  interreligious  dialogue  and  the  fostering  of  peaceful  and  just  institutions  and  societies  reminds  me  of  a  book  entitled  Religion,  The  Missing  Dimension  of  Statecraft.  It  attempts  to  restore  religion  to  its  rightful  place  in  the  conduct of international diplomacy, in particular in resolving  conflicts.  I won’t give you  more  details  about  the  book  lest  you  accuse  me  of  marketeering…  especially considering that I won’t get a percentage in advertising it!  But I do urge you to read it.  And, albeit taking the opposite side of the argument, who would not remember today  Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order?

We are here, because we believe in “dialogue” and not in “clash”. The good news  that it describes  is that religious  leaders and  believers play leading roles  in  the  fight  for  peace  and  justice;  in  defending  human  rights;  in  welcoming  the  marginalized; in ending various forms of exploitation, trafficking and violence; and in  building ways to achieve stable situations crucial for long-term development.

The bad news is that there are glaring exceptions. Sadly we continue to witness violent cases that demonstrate the dark side of religious passion divorced from reason, of zeal  for one’s belief at the expense of fundamental human rights. The thesis of my remark is simple: namely, development can only thrive in the context  of peaceful societies. The evaluations  on  the Millennium Development Goals  clearly  demonstrate the direct relation between the two: Countries in conflict have lagged far  behind in the realization of the MDGs; indeed, many have suffered regressions.

I  believe  that  fostering  the  action  of  religious  bodies  and  the  fruitful  cooperation  among religions is essential to forming and  consolidating  peaceful, just, accountable  and inclusive  societies, without which  the sustainable development goals cannot be  achieved. The  strength  of  religions  and  their  cooperation  to  foster  peaceful  and  inclusive  societies  essential  for  development  rests  on  their  capacity  to  raise  and  nurture prophets  and  builders  who  are  able  to  inspire  concrete  action,  develop  rapport  of  immediacy with individuals and communities,  and  rally  people to work together for  something greater than themselves.

The  work  of  building  the  types  of  societies  and  institutions  needed  for  sustainable development  requires  patience  and  perseverance.  The  construction  takes  place through  thousands  of  daily  actions  that  are  building  blocks  of  just  and  peaceful  societies. It’s  expedited  when  people  are  able  to  transcend  selfishness,  a  spirit  of  vengeance, and the phobia that if others are helped to advance, you lose rather than  win. In bringing about these factors key to genuine development, the contributions of  religious believers working together cannot be overstated.

Pope  Francis  has  emphasized  that  true  interreligious  dialogue  is  not  so  much  a  conversation  but  a  mutual journey. It’s  about  building  bridges  rather  than  walls. It  begins with a conviction that others have something good and valuable to say, with a  focus on what one has in common rather than with differences, with embracing rather  than excluding. It doesn’t ignore differences, because  differences  matter;  but it seeks  to understand those differences and treat the persons who hold them with respect.

Interreligious dialogue is a dialogue of life in which different parties have the courage  to encounter others as they are, recognize the values they have in common and begin  to work together to have those shared values reflected in society. Among those values  are the conviction that religious faith is a good for society, that it should be part of the  solution  and  not  of  the  problem,  a  deep  respect  for  human  dignity  and  religious  freedom, a commitment to peaceful coexistence and, most of all, love for others based  on love for God.

I  would  like  to  conclude  my  remarks  by  citing  Pope  Francis,  who  affirms  that “interreligious dialogue is a necessary condition for peace in the world” and that such  “a dialogue that seeks social peace and justice is in itself, beyond all merely practical  considerations, an ethical commitment that brings about a new social situation.”

Thank you for the kind attention.

28/03/2015 10:33