Pope Purchases First Bond of Fund for Immunization

On Tuesday in London, England, Cardinal Renato Raffale Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, purchased, in the Holy Father's name, the first bond for the eradication of poverty issued by the International Financing Facility for Immunization (IFFIm).

The IFFIm came into being in the wake of a project presented by Gordon Brown, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, at an international seminar on "Poverty and Globalization: Financing for Development," organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2004. The money raised will go directly to those most in need, especially children. Purchase of the bonds — which are guaranteed by various governments who will pay the interest and reimburse them on the expiry date — is open to anyone: institutions, organizations and private citizens.

"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," says a communique made public today. For example, thanks to the IFFIm, "by 2015, in 72 countries the lives of 10 million people will have been saved, 5 million of them children."

In a brief address delivered in English at the moment of 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.

"Pope Benedict XVI believes that this is the time," he added. "This is why he has decided that the Holy See would participate in the International Finance Facility bond program. His Holiness recognizes the need 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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