Argentine Bishops Say Crisis Is Bad, and Not Getting Any Better

Document Assails Inaction and Corruption

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BUENOS AIRES, MARCH 22, 2002 ( The Permanent Commission of the Argentine episcopate has condemned corruption and the lack of response to the country´s «terminal crisis.»

«We have a country that is held back by the lack of agreement and greatness of its political, social and economic actors, and that is incapable of giving an appropriate response to the gravity of this terminal crisis,» the bishops state in a newly published document, «For the Country´s Rebirth.»

«Sector and corporate interests continue to wish to impose their strength to the detriment of the general interest,» the document says.

The bishops´ commission deliberated two days before writing the document, which they published Thursday.

«A good part of the nation wants a new Argentina, but it does not find in its leaders the sufficient will to change the errors that have so degraded us,» the bishops say in their statement.

Argentina has been in recession for the past 45 months. Last December, violent protests and widespread looting forced the resignation of President Fernando de la Rúa.

«It is necessary to give up immoral ways of behavior in public life and irritating privileges,» the bishops´ document says. «It is also necessary to repair all damages caused, and to restore everything that was acquired illicitly.»

As religious leaders, the bishops promise to reflect on «our responsibility in regard to the country´s situation.»

The bishops say that «given the passivity of the leadership and its meager representation, the advent of new forms of social protest» is understandable.

The bishops refer to their cooperation with national dialogue by their participation in the Argentine Table of Dialogue, and appreciate the efforts being made by the Table, but remind the public that «if the Argentine dialogue is to be effective and credible it must awaken in the political, financial, labor and business leadership the need for actions and signs that demonstrate a sincere desire for real and profound changes.»

They also exhort «the state powers to promote with wise laws the agreements that the Table is reaching, so that the reforms that Argentina needs will be made concrete in a progressive and rapid manner, especially the reform of politics and the state. This responsibility justifies and can ennoble the current transition.»

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