SAN LORENZO DE EL ESCORIAL (MADRID), MAY 14, 2002 (Zenit.org).-The first Social Congress on Latin America and the European Union ended with an appeal for “a more humane global society founded on solidarity.”
The meeting ended with the 150 participants´ approval of a 6-page final declaration. It will be presented at the summit of the Heads of State and Government of the European Union, Latin America, and the Caribbean, to take place in Madrid on Friday and Saturday.
The final document is coupled with an open letter addressed to Jose Maria Aznar, Prime Minister of the Spanish Government and current President of the European Council.
In the letter, the participants in the Congress (Cardinals, Bishops, religious, and laymen) organized by the Episcopates of the two continents, highlight four decisive conclusions of their discussions:
–Give priority to the social dimension of economic development;
–Combat corruption by promoting an ethics of responsibility in business;
–Ensure the protection of the environment through effective political and legal instruments;
–Make structures of governance capable of meeting the challenges of globalization through the modernization of the State, more effective structures of regional integration and global co-operation, and the strengthening of civil society.
Bishop Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal (Colombia, President of CELAM) and Bishop Josef Homeyer (Germany, President of COMECE) proposed the establishment of “Hope Commissions,” based on the model of Truth Commissions, to promote original and innovative approaches to a more just development in Latin America.
The congress was opened by José María Aznar, current President of the European Council, who told the participants that “the phenomenon of globalization is not a threat but a great opportunity.” He emphasized that “Europe and Latin America share such values as defending the dignity of the person and personal freedom” and added that “separation with collaboration is the political and social principle of the common history of Europe and Latin America and is the system which best reflects the values of democracy and freedom.”
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, sent a message to the Congress on behalf of Pope John Paul II, stressing that regional integration in both Europe and Latin America should be “an important step towards the globalization of solidarity.”
António Guterres, the former Prime Minister of Portugal, said that the partnership between Latin America and the European Union should contribute towards a better system of global governance. “If we can create a coalition against terrorism, we should be able to create an international coalition against poverty,” he said.