One of the main causes for the global financial crisis, Pope Benedict told G20 leaders.

The pope sent a letter to Britain’s Gordon Brown at the start of the
summit last week, and it got little attention in the pop media circus
around the events and especially, the Obamas.

But Benedict’s letter made incisive points. He told the leaders he appreciated…

the meeting’s noble objectives based on the conviction,
shared by all the participating Governments and international
organizations, that the way out of the current global crisis can only
be reached together, avoiding solutions marked by any nationalistic
selfishness or protectionism.

Having just recently returned from an apostolic visit to Africa,
Benedict wants to remind these leaders that their decisions affect more nations than are at the table.

The London Summit, just like the one in Washington in
2008, for practical and pressing reasons is limited to the convocation
of those States who represent 90% of the world’s gross production and
80% of world trade. In this framework, sub-Saharan Africa is
represented by just one State and some regional organizations. This
situation must prompt a profound reflection among the Summit
participants, since those whose voice has least force in the political
scene are precisely the ones who suffer most from the harmful effects
of a crisis for which they do not bear responsibility.

They’re also the ones who have “the most potential to contribute to the progress of everyone,” he added.

Then he asked them to reflect on this:

Financial crises are triggered when – partially due to
the decline of correct ethical conduct – those working in the economic
sector lose trust in its modes of operating and in its financial
systems. Nevertheless, finance, commerce and production systems are
contingent human creations which, if they become objects of blind
faith, bear within themselves the roots of their own downfall. The only
true and solid foundation is faith in the human person.

Restore ethics to the financial world, he asked.

If a key element of the crisis is a deficit of ethics in
economic structures, the same crisis teaches us that ethics is not
“external” to the economy but “internal” and that the economy cannot
function if it does not bear within it an ethical component…

Positive faith in the human person, and above all faith in the
poorest men and women – of Africa and other regions of the world
affected by extreme poverty – is what is needed if we are truly to come
through the crisis once and for all…

When Benedict delivers messages like these, and the one on the floor
of the UN General Assembly last spring, I wonder….anyone with a place
at the table paying attention?

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....