GENEVA, 16 OCT. 2007 (ZENIT)
Intelligent use of the economy, market
and culture is needed to attain objectives coinciding with our values as
Christians and members of the human family, says a Holy See
In this interview with ZENIT, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, apostolic
nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the Office of the
United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, spoke of the
necessary avenues to help developing nations escape poverty.
Q: What tools does Vatican diplomacy use to evaluate the most
underprivileged in the world?
Archbishop Tomasi: The Holy See works within the international sphere,
with the United Nations and in the U.N.-related agencies, as an
"observer" state; this gives the Holy See the right to intervene and
take part in non-voting activities, thus allowing the Holy See to act
more freely than other states.
Furthermore, the Holy See endeavors to promote a line of discourse to
support and aid the least developed countries, particularly those
suffering in conditions of extreme poverty.
Specifically, the Holy See tries to generate a public culture, a world
opinion within the international sphere, by declaring that developed
countries are not only in a position to choose to support poorer
populations, but that they bear the ethical responsibility to do so.
Then, the Holy See tries to offer actual help to these populations, not
only in the form of financial support, which sometimes contributes to
corruption, but, above all, through technical training, the exchange of
information and licenses, all to help facilitate production.
And, with the aid of existing international structures and U.N.-related
entities, such as the U.N. Conference for Trade and Development, we try
to equip less wealthy countries with the ability to take part in trade,
keeping in mind that participation is one of the most important concepts
in the Church's social doctrine.
According to this concept, everyone is entitled to take part in
international life, to have access to common goods in a fair,
proportionate and justified manner.
Q: What is your position in the debate about debt forgiveness for poor
Archbishop Tomasi: For years, particularly since the Jubilee of the year
2000, several private organizations, the Church, and the Holy Father
himself, have issued exhortations on the subject of debt forgiveness for
poor countries because even payment of the interest is so burdensome
that it obstructs development.
Therefore, I am in favor of debt forgiveness for the poorest countries
as soon as possible, so that some of the resources that thus become
available can be channeled toward social development, health care,
children's education, drinking water systems, all for a gradual
improvement of living standards.
Q: Do you consider the developed world to be adequately informed and
involved in the problems of poor countries?
Archbishop Tomasi: Public opinion is often distracted by many things
that are not so essential. Occasionally, great tragedies or humanitarian
campaigns draw attention for a while.
Some time back, we had the tsunami in Southeast Asia, which brought
about people's very constructive, positive and generous response. But we
have other "tsunamis." We have thousands of people dying of hunger,
malaria or AIDS every day while nothing is said about these silent
The media sometimes reports on these, issuing information, but it is
then lost because the news items are not dramatized, and public
The fact that there are wars going on, people dead as the result of
conflicts in Africa, Asia or the Middle East, is viewed with a certain
degree of indifference. It is almost as if we have grown accustomed to
the normalcy of these tragedies.
In my opinion, for people to see on the news that 100 people have been
assassinated in Baghdad, another 20 in Mogadishu, and 50 refugees have
died in a tragedy in Africa, is sometimes not very different from
watching an entertainment movie after the news bulletin.
Therefore, it is important for Christians to sensitize people through
the network of parishes, groups and movements, about the need for
solidarity toward the most disenfranchised, to work together toward
peace, for a bit of progress and for a better standard of living for
these distant people.
Q: What are your thoughts on multilateral diplomacy versus bilateral
dialogue in the international community?
Archbishop Tomasi: I would say, above all, that there is still a strong
desire to struggle and negotiate in order to continue on a multilateral
level, to seek solutions to current problems, particularly in the field
For example, the director general of the World Trade Organization
insists on the fact that we must definitely continue to grow together in
the same direction in order to be truly effective in the long term, even
in the case of developed countries.
However, at the moment, there is the temptation in Europe and in other
states to try to bypass common action through bilateral negotiations.
This tendency can have very dangerous consequences because the stronger
party tends to impose its terms on the weaker one, so that the
negotiation is not really equitable.
In the long term, this can just lead to the maintenance of the status
quo, in other words, the coexistence of rich and poor countries, which,
in fact, does not succeed in combating poverty.
Q: As permanent observer of the Holy See in Geneva, do you consider
international organizations in the field of economics, especially the
World Trade Organization, as directing their course of action toward the
sustained development of Third World nations?
Archbishop Tomasi: I attended the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference at
the end of 2005, when the WTO tried to evaluate the "Doha Development
Round" [from November 2001].
On that occasion, it became clear that, despite the extremely tough
bargaining, it is possible to reach agreements that are beneficial to
all concerned. Therefore, these international structures, which are
necessary to achieve the globalization of the economy, the market, and
culture, must be used intelligently.
We have to make an intelligent use of these structures in order to
attain objectives that are truly in line with our fundamental values as
Christians and as members of the human family.