Benedict XVI Notes High Hopes for G-8


Asks Them to Put Poor at Heart of Meeting

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 6, 2008 ( Benedict XVI joined his voice to the appeals of Church leaders who are asking the members of the G-8 to make good on promises to the poor.

The Pope spoke today after praying the midday Angelus about the Group of Eight gathering under way in Japan. The G-8 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

The summit is also to include a special meeting of African leaders, and another meeting of the 17 largest emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, as part of the effort to come to an agreement on climate change.

"In recent days numerous voices have been raised -- among them those of the presidents of the episcopal conferences of the involved nations -- to appeal for the carrying out of the commitments assumed in previous G-8 meetings, and to adopt all the measures necessary to overcome the scourge of extreme poverty, hunger, sicknesses and illiteracy that still affect a great part of humanity," the Holy Father said. "I also join myself to this solemn call to solidarity!"

The Pontiff expressed his hope that "at the heart of their deliberations they will put the needs of the weakest and poorest peoples, whose vulnerability has increased because of speculation and financial turbulence and its adverse effects on the price of food and energy. I hope that generosity and foresight will help them to make decisions in regard to relaunching an equitable process of integral development to safeguard human dignity."

Benedict XVI referred to a message from the episcopal conferences of the G-8 countries directed to the meeting participants. In that letter, the prelates recalled that the world's richest countries have pledged an additional $50 billion per year of development assistance by 2010, half of that money designated for Africa.

"This commitment must be met," the bishops stated, "and additional commitments should be made in the areas of health care, education and humanitarian aid."