Pope's Address to Italo-Latin American International Organization (IILA)

‘I encourage you, I encourage your efforts to bring the light of the Gospel and the richness of the Social Doctrine of the Church to these pressing questions’

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Pope Francis met with members of the Italo-Latin American Organization (IILA), on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation, in the Vatican on Saturday, July 1, 2017. IILA is an International Organization created in Rome in 1966, whose member countries are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Italy, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Here is a Vatican-provided translation of the Pope’s address to those present:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
First of all, I apologize for the delay. It was not in the agenda to arrive late, but the audiences were extended, so I apologize.
I welcome and greet you on the 50th anniversary of the Italo-Latin American Organization. I thank the President and the Vice-President for their words in introducing our meeting.
Expressed in the Congress of the creation of your Organization were its aims, among them: to promote development and coordination, as well as to identify the possibilities of mutual assistance and common action in the member countries (Cf. Article 1). Given this commitment, I wish to highlight three aspects that seem important to me at the present moment.
In the first place, to identify potentialities. The Latin American countries are rich in history, culture and natural resources; moreover, their peoples are “good” and supportive of other peoples. This was witnessed in the recent natural disasters, the way they helped one another, being an example for the whole International Community. All these social values are there, but, to be potentiated, they must be appreciated. Despite these goods of the Continent, the present economic and social crisis has hit the population and made poverty, unemployment <and> social inequality grow, as well as the exploitation and abuse of our common home — and this at a level that we would not have imagined ten years ago. In face of this situation, an analysis is necessary that takes into account the reality of concrete persons, the reality of our peoples (Cf. Encyclical Laudato Si”, 144). This will help us identify the real existing needs, as well as appreciate the richness that each person and nation encloses in itself.
If the first point was to identify the potentialities, the second is to coordinate efforts to give concrete answers and address the pleas and needs of the sons and daughters of our countries. To coordinate is not to let the other do, and in the end gives one’s approval, but it entails much time and effort; it is hidden and little valued but necessary work. In face of a globalized and increasingly complex world, Latin America must join efforts to address the phenomenon of emigration. A good part of its causes could have been addressed a long time ago, but it is never too late (Cf. Address to the Diplomatic Corps at the Holy See, January 11, 2016). Emigration has always existed, but in the last years it has increased in a way never before seen. Our people, impelled by necessity, go in search of “new oases,” where they can find greater stability and work that gives greater dignity to their lives. However, in this search many persons suffer the violation of their rights; many children and young people are victims of trafficking and are exploited, or they fall into the networks of criminality and organized violence. Emigration is a drama of division: families are divided, children are separated from their parents, they leave their land of origin, even the governments and countries themselves are divided in face of this reality. It is necessary to foment a joint policy of cooperation to address this issue. It is not about looking for the culpable and eluding responsibility, but we are all called to work in a coordinated and joint way.
And, finally, the third aspect: to promote a culture of dialogue. Among the many actions that could be carried out, I consider outstanding, given its importance, the promotion of a culture of dialogue. Some countries are going through difficult moments at the political, social and economic level. Citizens who have fewer resources are the first to note the corruption that exists in the different social strata and the poor distribution of riches. I know that many countries work and struggle to achieve a more just society, promoting a culture of legality. The promotion of the political dialogue is essential, be it between the different members of this Association, be it with countries of other Continents, especially the European, given the ties that unite them. In this collaboration and dialogue diplomacy is found to be a fundamental and supportive instrument to reach peace (Cf. Address to the Diplomatic Corps at the Holy See, January 9, 2017). Dialogue is essential, but not a “dialogue of the deaf.” A receptive attitude is required that accepts suggestions and shares anxieties – a capacity to listen. It is a mutual exchange of trust, which knows that on the other side is a brother with his hand stretched to help, who desires the good of the parties and the tightening of bonds of fraternity and friendship to advance on paths of justice and peace.
I encourage you in your commitment in favor of the common good in our American Continent and I hope that collaboration among all can foster the creation of an ever more human and just world.
Thank you very much.
[Original text: Spanish] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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