April 28-May 1, 2000
volume 11, no. 82
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


    VATICAN ( -- On April 27, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace released a 225-page volume, containing the key texts of Catholic social teaching.

    The book, which is published in English, is entitled The Social Agenda: A Collection of Magisterial Texts. It contains portions of 75 different texts relating to the Church's social teaching, including the writings of the Church fathers and the social encyclicals of 20th-century popes. The text will be available in several other languages by the end of May.

    Archbishop Francis Xavier Van Thuan, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told reporters that the text is not meant as a replacement for a forthcoming "social catechism." On the contrary, he said, this book should be seen as an "appetizer," stimulating interest in the topic and preparing for the larger work on Catholic social teaching, which will be available before the end of the Jubilee year.

    The Social Agenda is divided into 10 chapters, which cover the range of topics from human dignity and family life to subsidiarity, private property, and Church-state relations. The texts come from writers ranging from Sts. Clement and Augustine to Pope John Paul II. The book also has an extensive index.

    As he introduced a new collection of key texts in Catholic social teachings, Bishop Diarmuid Martin commented that the world's wealthiest countries are moving "too slowly" in the drive to reduce Third World debt.

    Bishop Martin, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, made his remarks at a press conference on April 27, as he briefed reporters on a newly published book which brings together the papal encyclicals and other magisterial documents on social issues.

    The bishop said that the Jubilee year poses an ideal occasion for action on the issue of international debt, and he added that it would be a shame to let that opportunity pass. Yet Bishop Martin pointed out that only five countries-- Bolivia, Uganda, Mauritania, Mozambique, and Tanzania-- have seen tangible results from the reduction of their debt burden. He said that the goal should be to wipe out the debt of 19 impoverished countries before the end of the year.

    Bishop Martin also pointed out that the implementation of debt-reduction efforts has been painfully slow. The leaders of the influential "G7" countries- - the world's leading financial powers-- have agreed to put $100 million into a debt-reduction campaign. But only $11 million of that funding has actually been made available. Political opposition has stalled debt-reduction efforts in Europe and the United States, he reported.

    The Vatican official also mentioned that international leaders should make special efforts to ensure that the funds freed up by debt relief are allocated to the people of the poor countries, rather than being diverted for the personal use of the political elite. He mentioned the situation in Uganda, where debt-relief efforts were suspended after the country's president used international aid to buy an airplane for his private use. Bishop Martin insisted that the countries receiving debt relief should avoid using their newly available funds for military hardware or "prestige" projects. Instead, he said, they should adopt "clear and transparent" policies in their efforts to fight poverty.


April 28-May 1, 2000
volume 11, no. 84

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