Argentine Bishop Issues Plea Amid the Turmoil

«Let Us Put Aside All Acts of Injustice»

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BUENOS AIRES, DEC. 21, 2001 ( Amid Argentina´s turmoil, the president of the Catholic bishops´ conference has raised his voice to remind his countrymen of the fundamental values on which the country was founded.

President Fernando De la Rúa resigned and fled the government palace in a helicopter, driven from office by a devastating economic crisis and days of rioting that left 22 people dead and homes and supermarkets across Argentina ransacked.

De la Rúa´s sudden downfall Thursday came amid the worst unrest in Argentina in a decade. Screeching tear gas canisters arched across the capital and police fired rubber bullets at thousands of anti-government protesters. Rioters looted houses and stores in other cities, and more than 200 people were injured nationwide.

On Thursday night, Archbishop Estanislao Karlic of Parana issued a statement to the country: «Sow seeds of justice and peace in the fields of the motherland.» Here is a summary of the archbishop´s statement, published by the Vatican agency Fides.

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«The Church accompanies her sons and daughters every day in this crisis, in every town, large or small, and today through her bishops she wishes to express deep concern for the sad events of the past few days which, in a way, culminated with the resignation of the president.

«We must save the nation, a country built with years of work, with the protection of God, and with the hands, intelligence, and love of generations.

«Today we must protect the structures of authentic democracy, affirm the major values of the human person, family, and society in order live the moral virtue of justice with solidarity.

«Our nation, built on values, must be rebuilt at this moment of crisis. We pray to God Our Father to render us his authentic sons and daughters and brothers and sisters among ourselves. He is the author of all good. With humility and a spirit of conversion, let us put aside all acts of injustice which destroy fraternal relations in society, all that encourages egoism and tears apart the fabric of our community.

«Only if we have a pure heart before God will we have clean hands to work and embrace our brothers. Only with a pure heart will we be able to share our bread with the poor and sow seeds of justice and peace in the fields of the motherland.

«Political and social leaders must assume their responsibilities with the generosity demanded of their position and of the present time of crisis, with wisdom and heroic renunciation [shown by] great leaders of peoples at crucial moments in history.

«All Argentinians must share the burden and the honor of building peace and fullness of social life, the fruit of authentic social friendship.

«We must build on the rock, not on sand. Let us pray to the Lord to build, using our hands, this difficult work that is our nation. May his love and his promise to be always with us, and be the basis of our hope.»

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