The Vatican has said that “concrete steps” have already been taken by world leaders towards the Pope’s goal of diverting military budgets to a “global fund” to end poverty and hunger.
– “This is not an abstract idea”: member of Vatican COVID Commission
“This is not an abstract idea”, Vatican official Alessio Pecorario told Spanish-language news agency Europa Press in a November 17 interview with respect to the Pope’s dream of building such a world fund.
Pecorario, who works on the ‘Security’ taskforce in the Vatican’s COVID-19 Commission, said the worldwide policymakers his office deals with “see the global ceasefire requested by the UN Secretary General, and which the Pope has endorsed, as something logical”.
The Vatican official said that therefore, with that theoretical support already in place, it is now a matter of moving from words to action on the ceasefire and the anti-poverty and anti-hunger fund.
“We have to create synergies and work in networks. On the one hand, our offices in the Vatican and on the other, offices of other religions, universities, international organisations, NGOs, governments [and] the private sector”, Pecorario explained.
– Military expenditure amounted to $1.917 trillion worldwide in 2019. But just $260 billion would be enough to end hunger
“With the money spent on weapons and other military expenditures, let us establish a global fund that can finally put an end to hunger and favour development in the most impoverished countries, so that their citizens will not resort to violent or illusory solutions, or have to leave their countries in order to seek a more dignified life” (262).
Francis repeated his call for such a world fund in a video message for World Food Day October 16, in which he challenged governments to take the “courageous decision” to set up such an endowment.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), governments around the world spent $1.917 trillion on their military budgets in 2019 alone. However, according to World Food Programme (WFP) estimates, just $260 billion in a year would be enough to eradicate food insecurity.
Not that Pecorario is advocating leaving military divestment just in the hands of States.
For the Vatican official, there is also the “issue of managing one’s own savings”, and in that sense he invited Catholics and people of good will to ask themselves:
“Have I invested them in banks that in turn allocate them to the arms industry, or have I privileged banks that invest in development programmes?”
According to Pecorario, too, the stakes of our personal and political choices couldn’t be higher.
“If the Pope talks about World War III, using an expression that strong, it is to make us open our eyes. Let us look beyond our own borders – war is something real and our responsibility is to limit it”, the Vatican employee underlined.
For the Pope “violence is not just an armed battle or a bomb blast”, Pecorario continued. “Hunger, lack of education or health care, as well as enmity between States and peoples: all are forms of violence, born of the globalisation of indifference”, he warned.
– “What is more naive – to think of this solution or to let the crisis happen?”
Another Holy See official who has come out in favour of the world anti-poverty and anti-hunger fund is Sister Alessandra Smerilli, the coordinator of the ‘Economics’ taskforce in the Vatican coronavirus Commission.
In a virtual press conference, Smerilli defended the idea of the fund against charges that it is overly optimistic or even absurd. “What is more naive – to think of this solution [of the fund] or to let the crisis happen while we continue to increase our military arsenals?”, Smerilli asked rhetorically.
“What’s absurd is that nothing more concrete is being done”, the religious said.