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Archbishop tells UN about religion’s role in economic development

July 18, 2017

In the quest to end poverty, religious leaders make their best contribution by raising awareness of the ethical principles that lie behind humanitarian efforts, the Vatican’s representative told a UN session on international development.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza applauded a UN effort to “mobilize religious communities to act with solidarity and shared responsibility” to help those who are in need. But he cautioned that the religious perspective must be maintained, rather than submerged into broad humanitarian programs. He remarked that development programs can “become wedded, in practice, to inadequate materialistic, individualistic, or hedonistic philosophies.” Moreover, he said, they can “try to instrumentalize religion for purposes incompatible with the loving concern for God and neighbor.”

Leaders in our society, Archbishop Auza said, often “like to bracket the most important questions, like those about who we are, where we come from, where we’re going, how we should treat each other, and what is good, true, and genuinely beautiful.” Religious institutions press on those essential questions, he said.

The archbishop said that this is the most important work of religious bodies in the sphere of development. At the same time he called attention to the enormous work that religious institutions contribute to the cause of development, saying:

I believe that the greatest long-term contribution religious believers and faith-based organizations will collectively and generously offer toward the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda will not be the sum of the enormous work they carry out and will continue to do on the ground, in alleviating poverty, feeding the hungry, providing health care, educating multitudes from elementary schools through universities and beyond, promoting the dignity of women and especially their indispensable service as mothers, caring for our water and environment, engaging in peacemaking and peacebuilding, and so many other noble activities.


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  • Posted by: unum - Jul. 19, 2017 9:53 AM ET USA

    Our clergy-politicians continue to engage in political discourse while the diverse talents of the Faithful are ignored. God gave all people these gifts to be used to help those less fortunate, but politics seems to trump the preaching needed to activate the people of God in today's Church!