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Pope Blasts Graft

In central Mexico yesterday, outside a city called Leon, Pope Benedict held an outdoor Mass for 300,000 people where he condemned criminality, violence, and corruption. It’s a theme familiar to the pope.

International graft has been a target of the 84-year-old pontiff since his election in 2005. Under his leadership, the Vatican published a paper in 2006 called The Fight Against Corruption.

‘Corruption is a cause of great concern today,’ the paper said, ‘in that it is also connected to drug-trafficking, to money-laundering, to the illegal trade of arms, and to other forms of criminality.’

The paper grew out of a conference organized by Pope Benedict and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Attending were well-known anti-corruption leaders from public and private institutions, including François Vincke, Eva Joly, and Paul Wolfowitz.

Although graft has always existed, the paper said, only recently has it been well understood. And only in the past fifteen years has the battle against graft begun to spread to more countries and global institutions.

‘This recent change,’ it said, ‘was brought about in particular by two important historical factors: the fall of ideological blocs after 1989 and the globalization of information. Both of these processes have contributed to shedding greater light on corruption and making people more effectively aware of it. The opening up of borders as a result of the process of globalization has made it possible for corruption to expand with greater facility in respect to the past, but also offers greater opportunity to fight it, by means of more resolute and coordinated international cooperation.’

The fight against corruption requires more transparency, the paper said, and uniform legislation among the community of nations.

‘At the present time funds arising from corruption are easily concealed,’ it said, ‘as are the dishonest gains of corrupt governments; these governments are able to export huge amounts of capital effortlessly with many forms of complicity. Harmonized or uniform legislation is to be encouraged as a step in prevention, so that poor countries do not attract this illicit capital solely because such uniform legislation is lacking.’

The Vatican’s paper, The Fight Against Corruption, is available here.

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