News archive 2005

Bishops call on Government to reach 0.7% overseas aid target by 2010

Press Release

9 September 2005

Embargoed until 1.00pm on Friday 9th September 2005

Bishops call on Government to reach 0.7% overseas aid target by 2010

The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Dr Seán Brady, along
with the Bishop of Clonfert, Dr John Kirby and Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin,
Dr Raymond Field, today in the Mansion House, Dublin, launched: Towards
the Global Common Good, a pastoral letter on international development
on behalf of the bishops’ conference.

At the launch Archbishop Brady said, “The key message of this Bishops’
Pastoral Letter is a call to persevere our ‘commitment to the good of
one’s neighbour with the readiness, in the Gospel sense, to “lose oneself”
for the sake of the other’, not only in personal but also in national
and global terms. This, in turn, requires a spirit of cooperation and
a willingness to sacrifice personal or national interest for the sake
of the global common good.

“We believe that the poorest nations of the world continue to look to
Ireland to set the global standard for commitment to development aid.
We also believe that there is substantial support among the Irish people
for a compelling and world-leading target, which will express their
commitment to a more just and compassionate world. We therefore appeal
to the Government to further enhance its reputation, as a global leader
in development aid, and to commit itself to reach the UN target of 0.7
per cent of GNP by the year 2010 at the latest.”

Chairman of Trócaire Bishop John Kirby said: “Trócaire, partly through
our “Keep our Word” campaign, is calling on the Government and other
leaders to make firm commitments next week at the 60th General Assembly
of the United Nations to tackle poverty and promote peace, security and
human rights. As Archbishop Brady has already stated, the Government
should announce that it will reach the target of 0.7% of spending on
overseas aid no later than 2010.

“An Taoiseach has the chance next week to deliver a new commitment on
behalf of the Irish people, a commitment that is realistic, achievable
and morally required. That commitment would go a long way towards providing
the international leadership necessary to change the global structures that
ensure inequality and the continuation of the poverty trap for almost half
of humanity. The Government must lead the way towards the global common
good that is outlined in this pastoral letter,” Bishop Kirby said.

Notes for Editors
* Trócaire is the development agency of the Irish Bishops’ Conference.
* “Keep Our Word” campaign raises the issue of the 8 Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs) at local, national and international level. More and better
aid along with debt cancellation and a commitment to trade justice are
vital if the MDGs are to be achieved by the target date of 2015.
* The Pastoral Letter Towards the Global Common Good is available
at www.catholiccommunications.ie/pastlet
* The texts of the addresses delivered by Archbishop Seán Brady and Bishop
John Kirby at the launch of the Pastoral Letter are included below.

Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)

TOWARDS THE GLOBAL COMMON GOOD
ADDRESS BY
ARCHBISHOP SEÁN BRADY
FRIDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 2005
MANSION HOUSE, DUBLIN

Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Irish Bishops’ Conference can I thank you for being here for
this launch of our Pastoral Letter, Towards the Global Common Good.

On Wednesday past, the urgent issue of wealth and poverty in an unequal
world was brought powerfully to our attention, once again, with the publication
of the United Nations Report on Human Development. This Report confirms
that Ireland is now ranked eighth in the world for human development, up
from tenth position in 2002. That is a major achievement by any standard.
The Pastoral Letter points out that this recent economic success, as well
as the economic progress which has flowed from the peace process in Northern
Ireland, is something to be welcomed and celebrated. The creation of wealth
is a vital and legitimate aspiration of every individual and every national
economy. All who contributed to this success deserve praise and recognition.
Their efforts have brought to many, increased opportunities and higher
standards of living.

Something else has become equally clear in recent days. While our economic
progress continues apace, it does so without adequate reference to the moral
principles of justice, solidarity and concern for the poor. These are the
values, which ensure a society worthy of the human person.

On the same day (as the UN Report on Human Development published details of
our ever increasing prosperity), the Combat Poverty Agency reported that one
hundred and forty thousand Irish children live in poverty. At the same time
the UN Report indicated that Ireland is one of the most unequal states among
the eighteenth wealthiest nations of the world. It ranks only behind Italy
and the United States. Such gaping inequalities are a serious challenge to
our reputation as a caring and generous nation. They call for an urgent
reassessment of our moral and spiritual priorities as a country.

The Scriptures remind us how quickly the legitimate pursuit of economic
growth can become separated from its proper orientation to the common good
and the universal destiny of the goods of the earth. When this happens, those
individuals and states, which have benefited most from increased prosperity,
can sometimes lose their sense of responsibility for the progress of society
as a whole and for the global common good. In the search for financial security,
we can, as individuals and as a state, become convinced of our own self-sufficiency.
More and more, morally and psychologically, we can become disconnected from
the plight of those less well off than ourselves.

Through this Pastoral Letter we, the Irish Catholic Bishops, hope to initiate
a discussion about the moral and spiritual implications of Ireland’s status
as one of the most successful and globalised economies of the world. We do
so in anticipation of next week’s meeting of the UN Millennium Plus Five Summit.
There, the leaders of 189 countries, including Ireland, will assess the progress
of the international community towards the Millennium Development Goals.

These goals were first established in the Jubilee year 2000 and include the
eradication of extreme poverty and the provision of primary education for
every child in the world. The commitment made by the leaders of the G8 Summit
in Edinburgh in July, to reduce the debt of some of the poorest countries of
the world was very welcome. Nevertheless, all the indications now are that
not one of the eight millennium development goals, will be met by the target
date of 2015. This is, in itself, a tragic and eloquent statement. It highlights
our lack of moral determination, as individuals and as the richest nations
of the world, to deal with the most urgent issue confronting our shared humanity.
The unnecessary death of a child every three seconds, for want of food or
medicine, is such a stark and appalling reality. While national and global
inequalities are widening, no disciple of Jesus can feel at peace with his
or her conscience.

This Pastoral both celebrates and challenges our reputation as a generous nation.
On the one hand, our record in relation to voluntary aid and our response to human
tragedy across the world are both outstanding and widely recognised. We have one
of the highest levels of public support for such aid in the western world. On
the other hand, as the Pastoral indicates, the virtue of solidarity put before
us by the Gospel, ‘is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at
the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a
firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that
is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really
responsible for all.’

This is the key message of our Pastoral: the call to a persevering ‘commitment
to the good of one’s neighbour with the readiness, in the Gospel sense, to “lose
oneself” for the sake of the other’, not only in personal but also in national
and global terms. This, in turn, requires a spirit of cooperation and a willingness
to sacrifice personal or national interest for the sake of the global common good.

We saw one very welcome expression of this principle in the Jubilee year 2000.
That was the commitment by the Irish Government that Ireland would reach the UN’s
goal of setting aside 0.7 per cent of GNP for development aid by 2007. I believe
that this initiative was widely supported by Irish people. It also set a
compelling standard for the rest of the world, one from which the poorest
countries of the world took great encouragement and hope. As Bishops we believe
that the poorest nations of the world continue to look to Ireland to set the
global standard for commitment to development aid. We also believe that there
is substantial support among the Irish people for a compelling and
world -leading target, which will express their commitment to a more just and
compassionate world. We therefore appeal to the Irish Government to further
enhance its reputation as a global leader in development aid and to commit
itself to reach the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNP by the year 2010 at the
latest. Confirmation that we have moved further up the table of world development,
since the original target was set, suggests that there is no justifiable reason
why such a target could not now be achieved.

More needs to be done to highlight the link between development and the way in
which we treat our natural environment. Global warming and climate change are
pressing problems. They are certainly aggravated by the sort of economic
development that is heavily reliant on burning fossil fuels and deforestation.
Unacceptable waste disposal, wanton depletion of fish stocks, and irresponsible
pollution, are by-products of an economic activity, which pays insufficient
attention to its effects on the environment.

Pope John Paul II once called for ‘ecological conversion.’ It has to do with
the type of energy we use to heat our homes, the method we use to dispose of
our waste, or the form of transport we use to get to work. Every decision we
make in favour of a more sustainable environment is a decision in favour of
the global common good.

This means that on a national level, much more needs to be done to cut Ireland’s
greenhouse emissions. The Pastoral reminds us that as a nation, we are legally
bound to fulfil our obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, which came into force
in February 2005. According to the most recent review of the Government’s National
Climate Change Strategy projections, Ireland, unfortunately, will not reach its
targets set under the Kyoto Protocol. It is an imperative, therefore, that the
measures set out in the National Climate Change Strategy in 2000, are implemented
with greater speed. All of us have a part to play; in our homes, schools, parishes,
businesses, industry and government. A critical point made in the Pastoral is that
‘All of us can review our own practices and establish our own challenging targets
to ensure that we meet our moral obligation to care for creation as God intended
and to create a sustainable global environment.’ We appeal, in particular, to
every parish and church organisation to assess their commitment to the care
of the environment. They are encouraged to set their own targets and develop
their own strategies for ensuring an ambitious commitment to meeting their
responsibilities as stewards of creation with a sacred vocation to care for
the global common good.

Thankfully, there is evidence of a growing global consciousness of our
interdependence as a human family. More and more people are becoming impatient
and concerned about the stark inequalities in the distribution of the goods
of the earth. They are keenly aware of our collective responsibility for
the developing countries of the world. We hope that this letter will contribute,
at least in some small way, to a further moral awakening on this issue.

The future of the human family has to be addressed in global terms. The dignity
and development of the human individual are the priorities. The Compendium of
the Social Doctrine of the Church balances it all up eloquently when it calls
for ‘a shared humanism based on solidarity’.

It is in that spirit that the Irish Bishops’ Conference has asked Trócaire to
prepare a Report on International Development. That Report will look at the
issues challenging the Global Common Good today. We hope that it will serve
as a stimulus for reflection and action. What is required is a social and
political culture, inspired by the Gospel and animated by a spirit of global
solidarity.

The Pastoral states that if the ‘civilisation of love’ proposed by the Gospel,
is to become a reality, then what is required is a ‘moral and economic mobilisation’.

The Irish Bishops’ Conference appreciates the persevering commitment of Trócaire
to the work of international development. On that note, I now hand you over
to its Chairman, Bishop John Kirby.

——————————————————————————–

Remarks by the Bishop of Clonfert and Chairman of Trócaire, Dr John Kirby
at the launch of the Irish Bishops’ Conference pastoral letter on international
development, Towards the Common Good, in the Oak Room, Mansion House, Dublin,
9th September, 2005.

Thank you for coming to this afternoon’s launch of the Bishops’ pastoral letter:
Towards the Global Common Good.

As Chairman of Trócaire, I have had the opportunity many times to see the impact
of development work in the world’s forgotten places. In the 32 years since Trócaire
was established to express the concern of the Irish Church for the suffering of
the world’s poorest and most oppressed people, the organisation has been to the
fore in highlighting the root causes of poverty and injustice.

That was part of Trócaire’s dual mandate:
* to support long-term development projects overseas and to provide relief during
emergencies; and,
* at home to inform the Irish public and mobilise people to bring about global change.

That mandate is as relevant today as it was then. As the teachings of Catholic
social justice require, Trócaire supports communities in their efforts to improve
their lives, meet their basic needs and ensure their human dignity.

A key element of Trócaire’s work is advocacy; at grassroots level, helping communities
to find their voice and make it heard; at national level, lobbying the government
to bring about change; and at international level, putting pressure on the
institutions of the European Union and the United Nations.

Some of the most effective advocacy work is coordinated with other Catholic
development agencies throughout the world, such as CIDSE, the European network,
and Caritas Internationalis, the international network that operates in some
180 countries worldwide. Trócaire works with CIDSE to coordinate its work on
advocacy towards all governments in the European Union and with Caritas to reach
those in power in the UN, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The success of this approach was evident last year when EU governments were asked
to submit interim reports about how they were implementing the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs), to which they had signed up at the UN in the year 2000.
The results were compiled into a report about the contribution of the European
Union to the MDGs. Original research by Trócaire into the MDGs was also shared
by all members of the network.

This increasingly important advocacy work has always focused on the need for
the reform of the structures that underpin our current global inequality;
structures put in place and kept in place by those international bodies such
as the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF.

Catholic social justice is based on the principle that people should be empowered
to make decisions and choices about things that affect them. But the current
structures of globalisation prevent that. The voices of the poor do not
reverberate in the corridors of power. Without advocacy work on their behalf
they would be in danger of being totally forgotten.

In the coming days, however, a real opportunity for progress will present itself
when the leaders of 189 countries gather in New York for the 60th General Assembly
of the United Nations. It is here that issues of international peace, security
and development, including the internationally agreed development goals (MDGs)
and the global partnership required for their achievement, will be discussed.

Among those leaders, and representing Ireland, will be An Taoiseach, Bertie
Ahern TD. This is an auspicious visit for An Taoiseach, who set Ireland apart
in the same location five years ago by promising to devote 0.7 per cent of GNP
to overseas development by 2007. That deadline has passed and we are awaiting
the delivery of a new date from the government. An Taoiseach will surely feel
the weight of his words and be aware of the need for credibility when he makes
another pronouncement at the UN.

There can be no doubt about the mood among the public: the sheer numbers that
supported “The Make Poverty History” campaign, of which Trócaire is a leading
member, before July’s G8 summit were testament to that. Tonight, more proof of
public commitment will be evident when people gather in front of An Taoiseach’s
office in Merrion Square for an all-night sit-out in advance of the UN Summit.

Trócaire, partly through its “Keep our Word” campaign, is calling on the government
and other leaders to make firm commitments at the UN on tackling poverty,
promoting peace and security and human rights. The government should announce
that it will reach the target of 0.7 per cent of spending on overseas aid no
later than 2010.

An Taoiseach has the chance next week to deliver a new commitment on behalf of
the Irish people, a commitment that is realistic, achievable and morally required.
That commitment would go a long way towards providing the international leadership
that is required to change the global structures that ensure inequality and the
continuation of the poverty trap for almost half of humanity. The government must
lead the way towards the global common good that is outlined in this pastoral
letter.

ENDS

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