The world’s top 20 most highly developed nations met in Hamburg, Germany, early this month, with four basic issues leading their agenda – climate change, North Korea, trade, and the migrant crisis.
Climate change was on the agenda of the G20 summit as United States President Donald Trump had withdrawn the US from the Paris agreement, under which the world’s nations pledged to contribute their share in keeping industrial pollution down, as this is the principal cause of global heating which is melting the polar ice, consequently raising ocean levels and causing more violent storms.
North Korea was on the agenda as it poses a major problem to the US, which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un repeatedly taunts with its missile tests aimed, he proclaims, at reaching the US mainland. Trade is a major concern, for all of the G20 nations achieved their present state of development through trade of the goods they manufacture. As for the migrant crisis, this is a problem of great concern to the nations of Europe for they have become magnets drawing millions of refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
To this meeting of the G-20 nations, Pope Francis sent a message, following a tradition begun by Pope Benedict XVI who wrote the G20 when it met in London in 2009. Pope Francis’ message acknowledged the tremendous importance of the rich and powerful G20 nations’ efforts to ensure the stability of the world economy with regard to financial markets, trade, fiscal problems, and global economic growth.
But, Pope Francis stressed, they should see that their efforts are inseparable from the need to address ongoing conflicts in the world today. “In the minds and hearts of government leaders, and at every phase of the enactment of political measures,” he said, “there is a need to give absolute priority to the poor, refugees, the suffering, evacuees, and the excluded, without distinction of nation, race, religion, and culture, and to reject armed conflict.”
Pope Francis thus spoke once again on the issue of migrants and refugees, on which he has repeatedly spoken out on countless occasions. These refugees, he said, are part of the great majority – 90 percent – of humanity who suffer most from the harmful effects of economic crises as well as political conflicts exploding into violence and death.
The whole world – not just the rich G20 nations – needs to be reminded of the suffering of so many people in the world today, victims of under-development, of persecution, of violence and conflict. Pope Francis has found it necessary to speak up again and again for the refugees and other suffering people of the world. We pray that more and more of us, especially the leaders of nations, realize the importance of what he seeks – a better world and a better life for the world’s poor and dispossessed – and help In realizing it.
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