Pope Urges Ecuador to Study Causes of Emigration

Receives New Ambassador

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Ecuador should examine why thousands of its citizens are emigrating, John Paul II urged today when he received the Central American nation´s new ambassador to the Vatican.

The Holy Father said that emigration is “one of the most complex and dramatic phenomena of the economic crisis” that hit Ecuador in 1999.

Yet, the increase in emigration was the principal reason for Ecuador´s economic comeback and its drop in unemployment. Remittances sent to Ecuador by emigrants totaled $1.42 billion last year, $100 million more than in 2000 and $400 million more than in 1999 — foreign exchange earnings that were only surpassed by oil exports, the Central Bank reported.

According to the National Institute of Statistics and Census, almost 1 million of the 12.5 million inhabitants Ecuador had in 1999, left to live abroad between that year and 2000, a record in Latin America.

The Holy Father said that emigrants must address “the problem of cultural uprooting, the risk of religious disorientation with the removal of their traditional manifestations and, in many cases, the painful dispersion of the nuclear family, without neglecting the disastrous consequences of so many cases of illegality and clandestinity.”

In face of this phenomenon, “the Church does not limit itself to reiterating the fundamental ethical principle that emigrants must always be treated with the respect due to the dignity of every human person, but it mobilizes all its resources to help them in the best way possible,” the Pontiff added.

In fact, in countries to which Ecuadorians emigrate, Catholic institutions are frequently “the main point of reference for getting together, celebrating their feasts, keeping their national identity alive, and where they can find a valid if not the only support to defend their rights and resolve urgent situations,” the Holy Father said.

He said, however, that the problem must be addressed at its root: Ecuador´s economic, political and social crisis.

“A stable and integral progress of peoples requires honesty in their administrators, equity in the distribution of goods, and a conscience of responsibility and solidarity among all citizens, namely, ethical values, without which production can be increased but real goods cannot be acquired,” John Paul II stressed.

Lastly, the Pontiff appealed to the Ecuadorian government to struggle “through all means against any form of illegality, corruption and merciless delinquency that so many times transforms emigrants into a modern and cruel traffic of slaves.”

Marcelo Fernández de Córdoba Ponce, 60, the new ambassador to the Vatican, is a career diplomat who has specialized in canon law. Until now he was ambassador to Venezuela.

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