Bishops Give Pastoral View of Dominican Republic

Prepare Voters for May Elections

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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, MARCH 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Marking Dominican Independence Day, the island’s bishops are giving a pastoral viewpoint to the problems and possibilities facing the Republic.

For the Feb. 27 anniversary of independence, the prelates addressed a message to the faithful called «From Closeness to Our People.»

The bishops noted that the country has 11 dioceses, a military ordinariate and 584 parishes. Its 9.6 million people are 95% Catholic.

Global economics

The bishops wrote of the global recession, saying it is the fruit of a series of bad decisions.
 
«We must not forget» that «when things are not done well and remedies are not given in time, the evil is aggravated and a moment arrives when it bursts, causing unsuspected evils,» they said.

The prelates pointed to Benedict XVI’s «Caritas in Veritate» as a source of solutions, saying it has «incisive pronouncements that merit being reflected upon by us, Dominicans.»

Regarding the budget in their home nation, the bishops contended there is a «notable lack of prioritization,» and they affirmed that education should always have «absolute priority.»

Problems related to electric energy are the greatest failure on the island, the prelates suggested, urging the government and business to «spare no efforts in seeking a definitive solution to such a serious problem.» The Dominican Republic endures frequent blackouts and the electric energy sector needs to be reformed in order to facilitate the development of the island’s economy.

Life’s grandeur

The bishops also lamented that «life has lost its grandeur and inviolability» for many Dominicans. «Distressing is the growing number of persons who die violently to even scores, or because of gender violence, internal problems in the world of drugs, imprudence on the highways and avenues, and the presence among us of hired assassins and even suicides.»

Trust in the political system is also waning, the prelates observed, saying many «yearn for more dynamism and speedy and effective action in face of the problems that accost us.»

«Parties and politicians,» they recommended, must recover and «live the dignity of their job.»

Problems, they stated, «do not resolve themselves. Their remedy calls for the action of everyone.»

Poverty

The Dominican prelates called on the government to improve living conditions.

Poverty on the island is marked by a notable difference between rich and poor: The poorest 50% of the population receives less than 20% of gross domestic product; the richest 10%, meanwhile, enjoys nearly 40% of GDP.

Regarding agriculture, the bishops called for «better planning and greater investment by the government,» also in regard to «the quality of life of the man who works the land.»

Campaigning

As the Dominican Republic is hard-hit by the economic crisis, it would be «folly to carry out a costly, expensive campaign» for the upcoming elections, the bishops said. «It must be austere.»

Elections to the Senate and House of Representatives are scheduled for May. «And it must not be forgotten that citizens are disgusted by promises and the discrediting of some vis-à-vis others. The society calls for a serene, respectful and dignified campaign,» the prelates affirmed.

They called voters to «act according to a right conscience, selecting the most ideal candidates and those they consider can best serve the common good and the homeland and, above all, to appreciate those who in the course of their public life have demonstrated greater consistency with ethical principles and moral values.»

Finally, the prelates urged solidarity with Haiti, which shares the island with the Dominican Republic and which was devastated by an earthquake in January.

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