Argentina´s Crisis Is a Moral One, Say Bishops

Episcopate Tries to Help Maintain Nation´s Stability

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BUENOS AIRES, JAN. 7, 2002 ( Argentina´s Catholic bishops have urged politicians to face up to their own role in the nation´s crisis, stating that, beyond economics and politics, the problems are the result of leaders´ moral corruption.

The episcopate has taken steps to keep the situation from worsening. For instance, it has offered the premises of the aid group Caritas as a meeting place for dialogue between the various sectors of Argentinian society.

The series of presidential resignations began Dec. 20, when Fernando de la Rúa stepped down in the midst of a bloody popular upheaval. Ten days later, his successor, Peronist Adolfo Rodríguez Saá, resigned after losing the support of his party, following a street protest against his short administration.

Argentina, with 37 million inhabitants, is 92% Catholic. Its episcopate, which is extremely close to John Paul II, has a long tradition of commitment to social justice.

At the height of the crisis, Archbishop Estanislao Karlic, president of the episcopal conference and a writer of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published a statement Jan. 1 entitled «Perplexed But Not Desperate.»

The statement called for the «construction of a new Argentina» and the rejection of «the temptation to hatred and violence, which wounds and kills.»

«The Argentinian people are dismayed by the events that have shown the enormous depth of the moral crisis, which is manifested in the economy, politics and the whole culture,» Archbishop Karlic´s statement observed.

«The false scale of values of the egoism of individuals and groups has caused the human tragedy we are enduring,» it continued. «The successive resignations of the nation´s presidents shows us the extreme seriousness of the situation and the danger of anarchy.»

The statement added: «It is absolutely necessary that politicians seek nothing but service to the common good, that is, the good of each and every member of the national community, not only at the level of justice, but of social friendship, which includes solidarity.»

«It is indispensable that all people feel like protagonists in the construction of a new Argentina, and that they reject the temptation to hatred and violence, which wounds and kills,» Archbishop Karlic continued.

«It is ever more urgent that the whole nation begin to work on certain fundamental points, transformed into indisputable state policies that privilege the poorest, the sick, the retired, the unemployed,» the statement added.

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