Solidarity Key to Overcoming Argentine Crisis, Pope Says

Receives President de la Rúa at Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, APR. 5, 2001 ( John Paul II today proposed the Church´s social doctrine to Argentine President Fernando de la Rúa as the instrument to address his country´s economic crisis.

The Holy Father said it is urgent to take «measures oriented to creating a climate of social equity, favoring greater distributive justice and better use of the great resources of the country.»

«Only in this way will a situation of peace in justice be achieved, based on a common effort and an economy that is at the service of man,» John Paul II added.

De la Rúa, in his first visit to the Vatican as head of state, was accompanied by his wife. As the meeting came at the end, he asked the Pope to pray a Hail Mary, and the Holy Father invoked Our Lady of Lujan, patroness of the nation of 36.9 million people.

«Your country has deep Catholic roots, which explains why it has always looked to the Church and this Apostolic See as a point of reference for its own identity and history,» the Pontiff said in his address.

«Beyond political and favorable contingencies, the Catholic Church wishes to promote the integral well-being of citizens, despite international conditions and complex internal circumstances,» the Holy Father said. «Unemployment forces individuals, families and social groups to think of emigration in search of better horizons of life.»

In this context, John Paul II requested Argentine bishops to reaffirm the principles of the social doctrine of the Church, which should find an echo in those responsible for public administration, to avoid patterns of conduct that «might favor corruption, poverty and all other forms of social violence that derive from the absence of solidarity.»

According to the Pope, Argentina «has given proof of its attachment to great values, such as honesty, justice, respect for life from conception until natural death.» He noted that Argentina has defended the dignity of the human person, including the unborn, in international conferences organized by the United Nations.

John Paul II lamented the pressures exerted on some countries, especially poor ones, to renounce their values in these matters.

«In face of a widespread idea that often favors egotistical attitudes, which do not respect the principles that protect the first and fundamental human right, the right to life, it is right to acknowledge the clearsighted and human view of sovereign countries, like yours, which are an example of positions that are in consonance with natural law,» the Pope told the Argentine president.

John Paul II concluded by reaffirming that there can be no progress when there is a denial of «the fundamental human and moral values; nor is progress achieved by favoring measures that can attack public morality, which would lead to negative consequences, not only in the ethical realm, but would be harmful to society itself.»

For his part, President de la Rúa described John Paul II as the leader of peace, and he stressed «his determined action to avoid a confrontation between the neighboring peoples of Argentina and Chile.» The Pope´s direct intervention in 1979, requested by these two Catholic countries, avoided a border war.

Given the situation in Argentina, de la Rúa listed the principal objectives of his government: «to create employment, strengthen small and medium enterprises, promote plans for educational reform, and carry out infrastructural works with a view to the future.»

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