Papal Peace Day Message Looks at Poverty


Says Solution to "Scandal" Is Conversion of Heart

VATICAN CITY, JULY 1, 2008 ( Benedict XVI is dedicating his message for the World Day of Peace to a theme lurking behind many conflicts: poverty.

"Combating Poverty: Building Peace" is the theme chosen by the Pope for this January's 42nd World Day of Peace, celebrated on the first day of each year.

A Vatican communiqué released today explained: "The theme chosen by the Holy Father highlights the need for the human family to find an urgent response to the serious question of poverty, seen as a material problem but above all as a moral and spiritual one."

The statement noted how the Pope -- in a June 2 message addressed to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization -- denounced the scandal of world poverty in the following terms: "Poverty and malnutrition are not a simple fatality, provoked by adverse environmental situations or by disastrous natural calamities. [...] Purely technical and economic considerations must not prevail over the duties of justice toward people suffering from hunger."

The communiqué added: "The scandal of poverty reveals the inadequacy of current systems of human coexistence in promoting the realization of the common good. This imposes the need for reflection on the deep roots of material poverty and, consequently, also on spiritual poverty that makes man indifferent to the suffering of others.

"The answer, then, is to be sought first and foremost in the conversion of the human heart to the God of charity, so as to achieve poverty of spirit in the terms of the message of salvation announced by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."