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Thursday, July 27, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JUL 27, 2006 (VIS) - At Guayaquil, Ecuador, from July 11 to 14, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes presided at the annual meeting of the administrative council of the "Populorum Progressio" Foundation. The meeting considered the financing of projects to promote integral development among the poor indigenous mixed race and Afro-American rural communities of Latin America and the Caribbean.

  The "Populorum Progressio" Foundation is part of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," the president of which is Archbishop Cordes who also acts as president and legal representative of the foundation. The administrative council, which meets to study and approve the projects presented, is made up of seven members: six bishops from various countries in Latin America, and a representative of the pontifical council.

  In a communique, "Cor Unum" indicates that during the July meeting consideration was given to 255 projects for a total value of 2,500,000 US dollars. Of these, approval was given to 215 projects for a total of 1,820,500. "Most of this sum," says the communique, "comes from the generosity of the faithful of the Church in Italy through the Italian Episcopal Conference's Committee for Charitable Interventions in favor of the Third World."

  Of the projects approved this year, 36.9 percent involve the production sector, in the fields of both agriculture and small business; 26.19 percent goes to the creation of public service infrastructures such as the supply of drinking water, fencing, toilets and communal halls; 17.46 percent to the building of schools, dwellings and health centers; 12.3 percent to education; and 7.15 percent to healthcare.

  The communique closes by highlighting the fact that since February 13, 1992 - when John Paul II established "Populorum Progressio" - the foundation has awarded more than 20 million dollars for more than 2,000 projects.
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VATICAN CITY, JUL 27, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Holy See secretary for Relations with States, gave an interview to Vatican Radio on the subject of the International Conference for Lebanon, which was held yesterday in Rome and in which he participated as an observer.

  In the interview, large extracts of which are given below, the archbishop described as "positive" the speed with which the conference was convened and the fact that "it focussed its attention on the most urgent needs of the present time." On the subject of the final declaration, which was judged by many as disappointing, he noted that "the expectations of the public were certainly high, but for the well-informed who understand the difficulties, it could perhaps be said that the results were significant."

  The secretary for Relations with States then went on to enumerate some of those results. In the first place, he pointed out "the fact that countries from various parts of the world ... came together in an awareness of the gravity of what is happening in Lebanon, reaffirming the need for the country to regain full sovereignty as soon as possible," and that "they made a commitment to help her." He also mentioned "the request to form an international force under the United Nations, to support the regular Lebanese army in security matters," as well as "the commitment to offer immediate humanitarian aid to the people of Lebanon and the guarantee of support in rebuilding by calling a conference of donor States." Finally, he highlighted the participants' commitment "to remain in constant contact concerning further developments in the intervention of the international community in Lebanon."

  The sense of disappointment, said the archbishop, may have been caused above all "by the fact that there was no request for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Unanimity among the participants was not achieved because some countries maintained that an appeal would not have produced the desired effect, and it was felt more realistic to express a commitment to achieve without delay a cessation of hostilities," a commitment "which can, in fact, be maintained."

  Another problematic issue, said the archbishop, was the fact that the conference limited itself "to inviting Israel to exercise the greatest restraint. By its nature, this call has a certain inevitable ambiguity, whilst respect for the innocent civilian population is a precise and binding duty."

  Archbishop Lajolo also affirmed that yesterday Fouad Siniora, prime minister of Lebanon, "had the opportunity to explain fully the dramatic nature of the situation of the country, and to present his own plan for the immediate and definitive resolution of the conflict with Israel. He was also able to witness and further encourage the positive efforts being made by the international community to help the Lebanese people, to put an end to the conflict and to reinforce his government's control of the country."

  In a meeting yesterday evening with Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, Fouad Siniora "expressed great appreciation for the commitment with which the Holy Father in person, and the Holy See, are following the conflict that is wracking Lebanon, and he requested continuing support for his country in the international arena" said Archbishop Lajolo. "He also recalled the words of Pope John Paul II, who defined Lebanon not only as a country but as 'a message' for all peoples of harmonious coexistence among various religions and confessions in one State."

  The secretary for Relations with States affirmed that, following the Rome conference, "the Holy See remains in favor of an immediate cessation of hostilities. The problems on the table are many and extremely complex, and precisely for that reason cannot all be dealt with together. While bearing in mind the general picture and the overall solution to be achieved, the problems must be resolved 'per partes,' beginning with those that are immediately resolvable. The position of those who maintain that conditions must first be created so that any truce is not once again violated is only apparently one of realism, because those conditions can and must be created with means other than the killing of innocent people. The Pope is close to those peoples, victims of contrasts and of a conflict foreign to them. Benedict XVI prays, and with him the entire Church, for the day of peace to come today and not tomorrow. He prays to God and appeals to political leaders. The Pope weeps with every mother weeping for her children, with all those weeping for their loved ones. An immediate suspension of hostilities is possible, and therefore necessary."
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