VATICAN CITY, DEC. 9, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II said that Paraguay’s development depends on education, and he called for initiatives to improve the quality of health care, housing and working conditions.
The Pope made this proposal today to Marcos Martínez Mendieta, the new ambassador from Asuncion to the Holy See, during the ceremony to present his letters of credence.
The Holy Father explained that the objective of Paraguay’s development is to make possible that “the integral formation of a person is within everyone’s reach, preparing the new generations to fully assume their responsibilities as citizens capable of being actors in the nation’s progress, actively pursuing the common good.”
In this connection, it is imperative to pay special attention “to education in real moral values and those of the spirit, promoting an authentic cultural policy that consolidates and disseminates them,” the Pope said.
“A new proposal of fundamental values is necessary, such as honesty, austerity, responsibility for the common good, solidarity, the spirit of sacrifice and the culture of work, the capacity for dialogue and participation at all levels, which can ensure better development for all the members of the national community,” he added.
“A democracy is maintained or declines according to the defense of the values it incarnates and promotes, as a democracy without values is easily turned into a visible or concealed totalitarianism, as history demonstrates,” the Pope stressed.
He added that Paraguay’s development calls for “initiatives that really increase the quality of life of citizens, paying special attention to the area of health, housing and working conditions.”
According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Catholic Church, Paraguay, which has just over 6 million inhabitants, is 85.5% Catholic. It has 21 bishops, 355 diocesan priests, 442 priests religious, 56 permanent deacons, 358 men religious (not priests), 4,949 women religious, and 39,107 catechists.