08 novembre 2006

Pontiff Buys 1st Vaccination Bond

Pontiff Buys 1st Vaccination BondBritish Fund Launched to Immunize Millions

LONDON, NOV. 7, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI was the first to purchase a bond for the eradication of poverty issued by a British-based fund that seeks to immunize millions of children around the globe.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, purchased the bond today in the Pope's name at the launching of the International Financing Facility for Immunization (IFFIm), presented by Gordon Brown, British chancellor of the exchequer.

Brown originally presented the project at an international seminar on "Poverty and Globalization: Financing for Development," organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2004.

The launch was attended by various religious leaders including the Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and British Muslim and Hindu leaders.

Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan and rock stars Bob Geldof and U2 lead singer Bono were also at hand.

The fund works by selling long-term bonds to international money markets to raise money for developing countries now, with interest on these paid back using future aid funding.

Purchase of the bonds -- guaranteed by participating governments -- is open to institutions, organizations and private individuals.

Saving millions

The BBC reported that the fund is expected to raise $4 billion that will be used to vaccinate 500 million children over the next decade, which will save 10 million lives, 5 million of whom will be children.

According to a communiqué issued by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, "Benedict XVI's gesture, at once real and symbolic, expresses the Holy See's full support for an initiative which, with broad international guarantees, will produce immediate and direct advantages in the field of aid and development, producing new financing with specific and urgent aims."

In a statement made when purchasing the first bond, Cardinal Martino said: "People living in poverty are looking forward to the time when corruption at the various levels of government or in the social sector will no longer hinder opportunities for development from reaching all members of society."

"A government that is truly responsive to the needs of its people is not only a necessity for development, it should also be seen as a right," the cardinal added.

Cardinal Martino said that "Benedict XVI believes that this is the time ... to quickly provide the funds in order to respond to poverty, hunger, the lack of educational and literacy opportunities and the ongoing fight against the scourge of malaria and the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis."

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