Uruguay Needs "Values" to Overcome Its Crisis, Says Pope

Receives New Ambassador to Vatican

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 9, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II said that Uruguay needs a plan based on “values” that respect the dignity of the person if it wants to overcome its national crisis.

The Pope expressed this conviction Friday when he received career diplomat Daniel Pérez del Castillo, 61, Uruguay’s new ambassador to the Vatican.

“As history demonstrates, a democracy without values is easily turned into a visible or veiled totalitarianism,” the Pope warned.

Uruguay is in the midst of a severe recession, exacerbated by the Argentine debacle of December 2001, which affected business, tourism and the financial system of its neighboring country.

The loss of half of the bank deposits and of a good part of international reserves forced the Uruguayan government on July 30 to close banks for four days to halt a run on them. Three private banks have already been suspended for lack of liquidity.

“This situation, although caused by complex factors, some of which are external to the nation, must nevertheless lead us to serene and realistic reflection on those premises that have caused or favored it,” the Pope said to the new ambassador.

“In this connection, it is opportune to recall that the social situation is not improved by applying technical measures exclusively.” the Pope added.

“Special care must be given to the cultivation of values and of respect for the ethical dimension of the person, the family and the society,” he said. “Honesty, austerity, responsibility for the common good, solidarity, the spirit of sacrifice and the culture of work must be fostered for the people’s authentic progress.”

Thus, “it will be easier to ensure the integral development of all members of the national community, so that no Uruguayan will be lacking the necessary goods to develop as a person and a citizen,” the Holy Father added.

“At times of difficulty and crisis, special care must be taken not to continue deteriorating the situation of those who already suffer poverty in its multiple forms,” the Pope warned.

Lastly, John Paul II reminded the Uruguayan government that it can count on the Church for “assistance to the most unfortunate.”

The Church, the Pope said, “offers the needy man material support that does not humiliate him or reduce him to being only the object of help, but assists him to come out of his precarious situation, promoting his dignity as a person.”

In this way, the Church defends the inalienable rights, “such as that of life from its conception until its natural end, the right to be born and to grow up in a family, to build a stable home and to profess one’s religious faith, both privately and publicly, without obstacles,” John Paul II explained.

The new Uruguayan ambassador is married and has eight children. He entered the diplomatic service in 1975.

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