Card. Reinhard Marx concluded by highlighting that development is not uni-dimensional; it is not only about the fight against poverty, hunger, or the access to water or health-care. In fact it always requires the development, at the global level, of a sustainable lifestyle that brings about a fundamental conversion of the hearts and minds of the developed and rich countries. Then he added: Instead of being driven by materialism and self-interest we need to become generous and show solidarity. We need to work on a new culture with respect for Creation, for solidarity and justice, for true and authentic human development. The world expects that their leaders in Rio will embrace their responsibilities and commitments. COMECE wishes them the courage to decide in favour of just solutions.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - In his declaration in relation to the Rio+20 Conference, Card. Marx called on the developed world to assume its responsibility for global warming, also through the promotion of a new lifestyle capable of moderating consumption and the desire for material goods, which has led to forced development with severe consequences on nature and the environment. COMECE President also highlighted the problem of food security, the first means to fight poverty, which is intimately linked to a sustainable agricultural sector. In fact, the cardinal pointed out economic growth can no longer be the sole goal of human development. Hence the need to use new alternative indicators for measuring development such as school enrolment rates and life-expectancy measures, which go beyond Gross Domestic Product. In the following paragraph, COMECE President said that cooperation will be the imperative of the future. Political institutions at all levels should improve their cooperation towards a sound global governance system, which is capable of ensuring coherent decision-making.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - With this meeting, countless people are expecting that concrete measures are taken on the path to a more equitable and sustainable development. In a world where millions of people lack access to adequate food, clean water, energy, health care and education and which is threatened by climate change, these steps are more necessary and urgent than ever. Card. Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising and President of COMECE (Commission of the Bishops Conferences of the EU), issued a statement on the occasion of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 that is being held in Rio de Janeiro from today until 22 June. In his extensive reflection, the cardinal focused on a wide range of issues including environmental sustainability, responsibility for the Planet, development and cooperation at the global level, quoting Pope Benedict XVI and previous COMECE documents on the matter, as well as the outcome of the first Earth Summit that took place in the same Brazilian city twenty years ago. At the 1992 conference the concept of sustainability was central, Card. Marx stressed. From a Christian perspective, the recognition of the dignity of man - he added - is the basis for any sustainable development. Man must be the focus of concern for sustainable development because he has the right to a healthy life in harmony with nature. (continued)
The Brazilian Bishops Conference (Cnbb) wishes the UN Summit on Sustainable Development or Rio +20 - taking place in Rio de Janeiro over these days - may undertake to build an alternative integral, sympathetic development model, based on ethics that includes responsibility for genuine human ecology, rooted in the Gospel of justice, in solidarity and in the universal sharing of property, beyond any utilitarian and individualistic ground (V General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Bishops - Aparecida n474c). The UN Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio +20 - the Brazilian bishops write in a message related yesterday - helps define the sustainable development agenda for the next decades. According to Cnbb, everyone should bravely and firmly undertake to change attitudes and decisions that, all through history, have left out the poor and doomed people to poverty and death.
To make a comparison with a non-EU country about such per capita Gross Domestic Product, Switzerland is at 151% of the EUs average. Croatia, a country that will join the European Union in one years time, stands at 61%; lower down are all the candidate countries (except Iceland, 110%), i.e. Turkey, Montenegro, Fyrom and Serbia. In addition, Eurostat provides a comparatively new economic indicator, the Actual Individual Consumption, a more consistent figure that shows private purchasing and consumption levels. In that case, Luxembourg is still top of the list, with 150% of the EUs average. It is followed by Germany (119%), the United Kingdom (118) and Austria (117). On the contrary, Bulgaria (44%), Romania (47), Latvia (56), Estonia (57) and Hungary (61) are at the bottom of the European Unions list.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - The North European countries concentrate all of the per capita wealth, while per capita GDP levels progressively decrease as we move closer to the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. This was found by a Eurostat survey, showing that the per capita Gross Domestic Product, measured as a Purchasing Power Standard (the artificial monetary unit that removes differences in price levels between countries), ranges between 274% in Luxembourg - taking 100 as the European Unions average - and 45% in Bulgaria. This means that the highest per capita GDP level, over two and a half times the EUs average, is that of the Grand Duchy; the list of the EUs wealthiest nations then goes on with the Netherlands (131% of the EUs average), Austria (129), Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, all ranging between 130 and 120%. Belgium, Finland, the United Kingdom (108%) and France (107) are also above the EUs average. Italy and Spain are roughly on the same level as the EUs average. Then, in decreasing order, Cyprus, Slovenia, Malta, Greece, the Czech Republic and Portugal. The countries that have the least per capita Purchasing Power are the Baltic Republics, Hungary (66%), Poland (65), then Romania (49% of the EUs average) and Bulgaria (45). (continued)
These repeated tragedies in the Otranto Channel should make us reflect on what is going on around us. Many governments are responding to the influx of refugees and asylum seekers with restrictive policies, by lowering humanitarian standards in an attempt to discourage arrivals: this is what Card. Antonio Maria Vegliò, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, will say tomorrow during the prayer vigil Dying of Hope in commemoration of the people who died on their journey to Europe (over 2,200 migrants and refugees in 2011). The vigil will take place in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome at 6.30pm. The event is organized by the Community of SantEgidio, the Astalli Centre Association, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, the Migrantes Foundation, Caritas Italy and ACLI. In his speech - disclosed today on the occasion of World Refugee Day - Card. Vegliò refers to the episode which led to Italy being condemned by the Council of Europe for failure to assist a boat carrying 72 migrants. The boat had left Tripoli for Italy on 25 March 2011 and was forced to return to Tripoli with only 9 survivors. Despite obvious distress signals - he recalls -, the military vessel sailed away.
I am following with deep concern the news from Nigeria, where terrorist attacks are continuing, especially against Christians, Benedict XVI said at the end of his general audience catechesis in the Paul VI Hall this morning. While I pray for the victims and for those who suffer, I appeal to those responsible for the violence - the Pope added - to immediately stop spilling the blood of innocent people. The Pontiff also expressed the hope that there might be full cooperation among all members of Nigerian society, that they might reject the path of revenge, and that all citizens might work together to build a peaceful and reconciled society, in which the right to freely practice ones faith is fully protected.
The call to holiness, to communion with God, the Pontiff explained, is part of His eternal plan, a plan that unfolds in history and appeals to all men and women because it is a universal call. God does not exclude anyone, His plan is a plan of love. He has chosen us for ‘adoption to Himself through Jesus Christ. The Apostle highlights the gratuity of Gods wonderful plan for humanity. God has chosen us not because we are good, but because He is good. The focus of the prayer of blessing in St. Paul is on the way in which the Fathers plan of salvation is realised in Christ, His beloved Son. Christs sacrifice on the Cross - the Pope explained - is the unique and unrepeatable event through which the Father has clearly revealed His love for us. St Pauls prayer of blessing ends with a reference to the Holy Spirit who has been poured out into our hearts. Redemption - the Holy Father explained - is still underway and will be fully accomplished when those whom God has chosen will be fully saved. We are all journeying towards redemption.
Our prayer is often a request for help in situations of need, and it is actually normal that we ask God for something, said Benedict XVI (click here) during his general audience catechesis in the Paul VI Hall this morning. In fact the Our Father prayer that Jesus taught us is a prayer of petition which sets some priorities for our prayer: it purifies our desires, thereby purifying our hearts. But our petition should also be accompanied by thanksgiving for the many good things that we receive from God. Then there is the prayer of praise: despite all our problems, we will see the beauty of creation if we have an open heart. Only with thanksgiving and praise will our prayer be complete. In his Letters, St Paul not only refers to prayer, but he also writes prayers of praise and blessing for what God has done and continues to do in the history of mankind. In particular, the Pope focused on the first chapter of the Letter to the Ephesians that begins with a hymn of blessing. We should fist bless God the Father because He has called us into existence, to holiness. This choice was made even before the creation of the world. We have always been in His plan, in His mind. (continued)