Pope praises performance on poor, Pell ponders president-elect

The Australian by Tess Livingstone 12:00AM January 16, 2017

Pope Francis has praised an Aust­ralian business-based advocacy group for its work in promoting and achieving “co-operative’’ globalisation to help the world’s poor.

On Saturday, the pontiff welcomed 80 delegates to the Roman Roundtable of the Global Foundation, chatted informally to participants and posed for photo­graphs.

The foundation, led by chairman Jock Murray and Secretary- General Steve Howard, was seeking to overcome the “globalisation of indifference”, Pope Francis said. It was doing so by working with “civil society, governments, international bodies, academic and scientific communities”.

On Friday, Vatican Prefect for the Economy George Pell told the gathering that research by Nobel prize-winning economist Angus Deaton, who taught for many years at Princeton, had identified an alarming rise in suicides among high-school-educated white men in the US, where as many as 490,000 extra deaths occurred from 1999 to 2013.

“Not surprisingly, we find a high correlation between votes for Trump, the areas with high suicide rates and the destruction of jobs,” Cardinal Pell said. ‘’Deaton is well aware of the finan­cial and social benefits of a global market economy, not least because of his work in India. But why are there so many dead white men?

“He points out that the destruction of jobs brought about the demise­ of unions, so that the jobless felt more keenly their lack of representation and lack of power.”

“The consequences which followed were even more devastating as doctors and the pharmaceutical industry overprescribed pain killers and antidepressants. Drug overdoses in the US now cause more deaths than traffic accid­ents.”

Cardinal Pell said that, as someone who many would lump into Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables”, he was unsure where he stood on Mr Trump. He agreed with the view Trump supporters had taken him seriously but not literally while the liberals and the media had taken him literally but not seriously. That was no longer an option with Mr Trump soon to be president.

The conference was attended by former prime minister Kevin Rudd, Bank of England governor Mark Carney, Pacific Islands Forum secretary-general Dame Meg Taylor, Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani, Chinese professor of business and globalisation Bing Xiang, Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven and former Australian ambassador to the Holy See John McCarthy, who worked with the foundation and Vatican leaders to establish the Rome Roundtables last year.

The meeting was held under Chatham House rules, with statements not attributable unless speakers agreed to be quoted. Mr Rudd said policymakers faced a challenge in striking the balance between open markets and ensuring fairness and sustainability.

Hard decisions were needed on taxation levels, the tax mix, the elimination of tax havens and employme­nt policy to prevent “full-time jobs becoming part-time, becoming casual and becoming no jobs.”

Centre-left and centre-right parties needed answers to prevent the spill of support to far left and far right parties, at a time when the West’s Judaeo-Christian ethic and the principles of the enlightenment were under serious pressure.

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Pope with Rome Round Table 2017

Pope Francis, centre, flanked by Cardinal George Pell, left and Argentinian Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, along with notables including Kevin Rudd, front row, centre right, former Australian ambassador to the Vatican John McCarthy, left, second back row, Peta Credlin, in black veil, and former Liberals federal director Brian Loughnane. Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven is left front row, while foundation secretary-general Steve Howard and his wife, Anne Fulwood are front row right