Why the Church Isn't Responsible for Social Underdevelopment

Interview With Bishop Mario De Gasperín of Queretaro

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QUERETARO, Mexico, AUG. 24, 2004 (Zenit.org).- In Latin America there is a tendency by some political leaders to hold the Catholic Church responsible for the underdevelopment of 40% of the population.

The main reason for these attacks on the Church has to do with its teaching regarding birth control, which critics say has caused a population explosion and increased poverty.

To understand the nature of these accusations, the newspaper El Observador interviewed Bishop Mario de Gasperín of Queretaro.

Q: What is the origin of the insistence of some political leaders in Mexico and Latin America in faulting the Church for the underdevelopment and poverty of large sectors of the population?

Bishop de Gasperín: I think it is ignorance. The majority of times those attacks have no real foundation, because they elude the core of the social doctrine of the Church, which is none other than defense of the dignity of the human person, of every human person.

The Church is not opposed to development; what it does do is to defend human life in all its manifestations, from conception until natural death.

Q: However, the label «guilty» continues to be pinned on it by politicians who even deplore its continuing «in the Middle Ages» on issues such as birth control.

Bishop de Gasperín: Yes. It is true that it is, at least in Mexico, a custom which states that poverty exists because there is an enormous birthrate. As the Church is opposed to contraceptives, condoms and «planning» methods, the Church, therefore, is culpable.

But it is a smokescreen, a sidetracking from attention to the errors of politicians themselves, who are the ones directly responsible for underdevelopment, ignorance, lack of health services — in a word, poverty.

Q: What is curious is that many of them say they are Catholics.

Bishop de Gasperín: If they are Catholics, they should know their faith better. Their ignorance is such that they feel they can opine in such a nonsensical way about one of the truths of faith of the Church: that human life is not negotiable, under any circumstance.

The fact is, they don’t realize, or don’t want to realize out of negligence, that in this matter the Church is betting on the human person; on truth.

The truth of Christ is the truth of the transcendence of life; it is not a theory. It is a very concrete commitment to every human being, whether or not he forms part of the Church.

Q: What would you ask of those who link the Church’s position on artificial contraception with poverty?

Bishop de Gasperín: That they first get to know us, that they learn what we do, the revealed truth that forms part of our faith and the values we defend. They don’t do so out of negligence.

I would ask that they first know us; … that they take the trouble to know the reason for the defense of life upheld by the Catholic Church.

Q: What is the origin of this attitude of disdain and lack of knowledge?

Bishop de Gasperín: In Mexico, at least, it is a philosophy that is corrupted at the root, ever since the imposition of liberalism as a political ideology.

There is a total lack of knowledge of the values that the Church defends, values which, moreover, are linked to the people’s longing, to their heart.

An attempt has been made to erase the social and communitarian dimension of the Church; because on the social plane, what the Church wishes, is to form a community. And nothing benefits economic and social development more than work and life in community.

Q: We still have the family …

Bishop de Gasperín: Yes, that’s true. The problem is that today the family is somewhat kidnapped by the state and its enterprises. Kidnapped in education, amusements, culture. Kidnapped in the life of faith, the communal and social dimension of the expression of its faith.

This is a catastrophe that is under way in the name of progress. But, what progress is this, which eliminates the fundamental value of life; which measures everything in terms of market participation or gifts from the state?

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