Reforms, Not Foreign Funds, Will Spare Argentina, Say Bishops

Extraordinary Plenary Assembly Views Crisis

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BUENOS AIRES, SEPT. 30, 2002 ( An extraordinary plenary assembly of the Argentine episcopate affirmed that this troubled nation will not be saved with new injections of foreign funds, but with genuine political and social reforms.

In a message entitled «The Nation We Want,» published by AICA agency, the episcopal conference said that Argentina «has become the prey of robbery by a few.»

According to the pastors, «we must move from the desire to be a nation to the construction of the nation we want. This is why it is necessary to find the means so that all the country’s citizens will determine by consensus the kind of nation we want to be.»

The plenary council which ended Saturday had been called to address the country’s grave crisis and to recommend solutions.

«This calls for carrying out fundamental reforms at many levels of social and political life,» the assembly said in its final statement. «If the reforms that society calls for are not carried out, we will be threatened by the possibility of falling into worse frustrations.»

The bishops pointed out that, «neither the arrival of new sums of money in the country, nor the reform of institutions, nor political changes, will be sufficient to build a new nation. These solutions will be sterile without a strong desire to develop in each citizen the most valuable social attitudes.»

«Only in this way will it be possible to transform the national culture and weave the common good laced with goodness, truth and justice, which will give us back the pleasure of being Argentines,» the prelates said.

«We are not afraid of truth. We fear our hardness of heart,» the bishops added. They also explained that «our words and actions do not seek to replace any protagonist or social or political authority, whom we respect in the exercise of their vocation at the service of the common good.»

The bishops said that the Argentine people «must return to the root of love that knits social coexistence.» Challenging their countrymen, they asked: «Do we want to choose to be Argentines again? Do we accept to do our part in the nation’s reconstruction?»

The document goes on to mention values that are «indispensable for social life.»

In the face of a culture of handouts, Argentines must «foster the culture of work, the spirit of sacrifice, persevering dedication and creativity.»

In the face of «corruption and lies,» Argentines must «foster the sense of justice, respect for the law, and fidelity to one’s word,» and in the face of «social fragmentation,» they must foster «reconciliation, dialogue and friendship.»

«Only good citizens, who work with intelligence, love and responsibility, can build a more just and cooperative society and state,» the bishops added.

After affirming their desire to transmit such values and attitudes with a «renewed and updated pastoral» program, the bishops said, «We must stimulate the sense of the common good to attain the good of all. In this connection, preference must be given to the most poor and impoverished, especially the unemployed, the excluded, the indigent and the hungry.»

The bishops continued: «In order to rediscover themselves as a nation, Argentines must help those who suffer: the elderly sick, adults without a job, young people without education or a future, children without food.»

To «know the values is not enough to rebuild the nation,» they said. «If the educational work of society and the Church was unable to make a worthy homeland emerge, it is because it did not succeed in incarnating the values in daily commitments.» The future will be built «with the help of God and arduous effort, not with facile demagogic proposals.»

Lastly, the bishops dedicated a paragraph to the national «dialogue,» to which the Church has contributed its spiritual input since the beginning of the year. They said, «We commit ourselves to help all, to extend this dialogue to every corner of the country. We bishops want to lead, encourage and enlighten this way in which the laity will play the important part that corresponds to them.»

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