North Africa Events Surprised Church, Says Bishop

Urges In-Depth Solutions

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ROME, MAY 13, 2011 ( The Church was taken by surprise by the events in North Africa and the international decision to use force to resolve conflicts in Libya, says Bishop Mario Toso.

The situation in North Africa was one of the topics discussed by the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace during a press conference held Thursday at the dicastery headquarters.

The conference was held to present a three-day congress, beginning Monday in Rome, marking the 50th anniversary of the encyclical «Mater et Magistra.»

The prelate stated, «Who would have foreseen that there would be an intervention by some European countries even before a U.N. resolution?»

He noted that «the social doctrine of the Church encourages the use of instruments of peace; this is the direction the Church offers all, to the laity, to leaders of states.»

«It is for the latter to assess which are the instruments of peace and if they are effective to attain it,» the bishop added.

The Church, he pointed out, «does not have armies or bombers.»

«Its arms are evangelization and the formation of consciences,» the prelate said, as well as urging every peaceful means, including diplomacy, to see if it is possible to offer a certain solution to conflict and injustice.

Different instruments

Seeing how the rebels move in Libya, he noted, the question is: «What will happen later?»

The prelate pointed out that it is not about saying «Let’s give them arms and let them solve their problem,» since «to resolve certain situations of conflict and injustice, very different instruments are needed from those we now have.»

From the point of view of opportunity, the bishop reflected on «how to propose a credible message that would insist on the use of certain means when these means have already been omitted as an operative way from the moment that the no-fly zone was created.»

«To resolve certain situations of conflict and injustice other instruments are needed,» asserted Bishop Toso, specifying that «the Church is a divine but also a human institution; it does not have a crystal ball to read future events.»

Conscience formation

Bishop Toso stated that «the honor of the Church and its strength is to preach Christ, to act on the plane of consciences, on the pedagogical plane.»

«And then its strength is expressed through a well-prepared laity that acts in places, in parliaments, to address these questions,» he said. «There are well-prepared persons, but at times what we witness is that those who are less expert prevail.»

Moreover, the prelate said, it must not be forgotten that there is need for a different political climate.

«If many flee from that situation, it is not because of a spirit of adventure,» he pointed out, «but out of necessity, because fundamental rights are not respected, because there is no liberty, or work, or possibilities of participation.»

Bishop Toso proposed, «Why don’t several movements come together and give answers such as finding funds or scholarships to form the future ruling classes of these countries?»

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