Vatican News

Meeting of mayors to empower the world’s poor

The Vatican has held two conferences on climate change, human trafficking and sustainable development.

The July 21-22 meetings, which brought together mayors from around the world, addressed how cities can help contribute to the solution of some of these problems facing humanity.

“Modern Slavery and Climate Change: the Commitment of the Cities” and “Prosperity, People, and Planet: Achieving Sustainable Development in Our Cities” were hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

Speaking in advance of the conferences, the Academy’s chancellor, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, said the climate crisis and modern slavery were “interconnected emergencies” and that “although the poor and the excluded have the least effect on climate change […] they are the most exposed to the terrible threat posed by human-induced climate disruption”.

Cities and their mayors play a key role in this “fundamental moral context”, he said, given how most of humanity now live in urban centres, a trend that is set to increase. The conferences aimed, he said, to encourage mayors to commit – among other things – to promoting the empowerment of the urban poor.

The scarlet and the black

Rome’s first ever consolidated financial statement has confirmed that the Holy See’s net assets are €939 million greater than hitherto believed. In previous interviews Cardinal George Pell, the prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, has explained that these assets had not been concealed, but were recorded in inconsistent ways.

The final figures for 2014 revealed the Holy See as having a budget deficit of €25,621,000, an improvement on the 2013 deficit which would have been €37,209,000 in the red if the same financial systems were used then as have been used for the consolidated statement. This deficit, however, should be offset against the Vatican City State’s excess of income over expenditure, where profits from investments, the Vatican Museums and other cultural activities left the city €63,519,000 in the black.

The reports were the first financial statements to follow new procedures governing the guidance, oversight and control of Vatican financial and administrative activities. They were reviewed and verified by the Secretariat for the Economy, as well as by a brand new auditing committee of lay experts and by an external auditor.

Miners gather in Rome

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has organised a meeting for representatives of communities affected by mining in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

“A day of reflection: united with God, we hear a cry” according to Cardinal Peter Turkson, took place between July 17 and 19, following on from “Mining for the common good”, a day of reflection organised by the Council for Justice and Peace in 2013 in response to a request from directors of various mining companies. Another day of reflection will take place in September.

Citing how in the encyclical Laudato Si Pope Francis urges us to “hear both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor”, Cardinal Turkson said that “many of us are aware of this harrowing cry from those areas where mineral extraction is carried out”.

The cardinal explained that the Church has for many years closely followed mining activities and challenged associated human rights violations, illegality, violence, and environmental damage. “A radical paradigm change is needed in the interests of the common good, justice, sustainability and human dignity”, he said.