Franciscans prod G-8 on sustainable economies

ASSISI, Italy -- The Franciscan order called on finance ministers from the world's richest nations to radically transform the current economic system into a model that is more sustainable and shares the world's resources more equitably.

In their efforts to spur economic growth and employment, governments should also promote methods of production that are less-polluting and pursue energy policies based on renewable energy, the religious order said a statement released to journalists June 13.

Representatives of the Order of Friars Minor delivered a letter to the Group of Eight finance ministers meeting June 12-13 in Lecce, Italy. Some 152 representatives of the order were attending an international general chapter meeting May 24-June 20 in Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis.

In the letter addressed to the G-8 treasury ministers, the Franciscan order said in order to overcome the economic crisis, individuals must be committed to more moderate and responsible lifestyles that show respect for the environment, engage in active nonviolence and replace competition with sharing.

It asked governments to "plan for an economy that represents a change in paradigm, namely passing from a free-market model of the economy to a model of sustainability, which gives priority to social and environmental dimensions over those that are purely economic and which guarantees the fundamental needs of all with the contribution of all."

It criticized the continued lack of protection of human rights, including the right to life at all stages, the freedom to work and study, and the rights of women and children.

Globalization has been allowed to be governed solely by market laws and as a consequence there is increased "unemployment, downsizing and deterioration of public services, destruction of the environment and of nature, indiscriminate production and sale of arms, increase of the differences between rich and poor" and unjust competition that forces poorer nations to remain poor and forces millions of their citizens to emigrate in desperation, it said.

The Franciscan order urged ministers from the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia, plus the European Union, to put people at the center of all of their policy decisions and renew efforts toward policies that are sustainable and protect the environment.

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