POPE FRANCIS’ MESSAGE
TO THE PRESIDENT OF PANAMA
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 7TH SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
To His Excellency Mister Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez
President of Panama
As host of the 7th Summit of the Americas, I wish to give you my cordial greeting and, through you, to all the heads of state and of government, as well as to all the participant delegations. At the same time, it pleases me to express my closeness and encouragement so that sincere dialogue will bring about mutual collaboration that unites efforts and overcomes differences in the path toward the common good. I pray to God that, through sharing common values, you arrive at commitments of collaboration in the national and regional environments that address the problems with realism and transmit hope.
I feel in tune with the subject chosen for this Summit: “Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas.”
I am convinced — and I expressed so in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium – that inequity, the unjust distribution of riches and resources, is the source of conflicts and violence between peoples, because it implies that the progress of some is built with the necessary sacrifice of others that, to be able to live worthily, need to fight against the others (Cf. 52, 54). Wellbeing achieved this way is unjust at its roots and attempts against the dignity of persons. There are “goods of first necessity,” such as the earth, work and house, and “public services,” such as health, education, security, the environment, from which no human being should remain excluded.
This desire – which we all share –, is unfortunately still far from reality. There still continue to be unjust inequalities, which offend the dignity of persons. The great challenge of our world is the globalization of solidarity and of fraternity instead of the globalization of discrimination and indifference and, while there is not an equitable distribution of wealth, the evils of our society will not be resolved (Cf. Evangelii gaudium 202).
We cannot deny that many countries have experienced a strong economic development in the last years; however, it is equally true that others continue prostrated in poverty. What is more, in the emerging economies, a good part of the population has not benefited from the general economic progress, to the point that frequently a greater divide has opened between rich and poor. The trickle-down theory (Cf. Evangelii gaudium 54) has been revealed to be mistaken: it is not enough to hope that the poor will gather the crumbs that fall from the table of the rich. Direct actions are necessary to favor the most disadvantaged, attention to whom, as that to the littlest within a family, should be a priority of governments. The Church has always defended “the promotion of concrete persons” (Centesimus annus, 46), taking care of their needs and offering them possibilities of development.
I also like to call attention again to the problem of immigration. The immense disparity of opportunities between some countries and others makes it so that many persons are obliged to abandon their own land, their family becoming easy prey of the traffic of persons and of slave labor, without rights, or access to justice … In some cases, the lack of cooperation between States leaves many persons outside of legality and without the possibility of having their rights respected, obliging them to place themselves among those who take advantage of others or to be resigned to be victims of abuses. These are situations in which it is not enough the safeguard the law to defend the fundamental rights of the person, in which, the norm, without pity and mercy, does not respond to justice.
Sometimes even inside every country scandalous and offensive differences are created, especially among the indigenous populations, in rural areas or in the peripheries of the large cities. Without a genuine defense of these persons against racism, xenophobia and intolerance, the State of law would lose its own legitimacy.
Mister President, the efforts to extend bridges, channels of communication, to weave relations, to seek understanding are never in vain. Panama’s geographic situation, at the center of the American Continent, which renders it a point of encounter between the North and the South, between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, is surely a call, pro mundi beneficio and justice and to promote solidarity and collaboration respecting the just autonomy of every nation.
With the hope that the Church will also be an instrument of peace and reconciliation between peoples, receive my heartfelt and cordial greeting.
From the Vatican, April 10, 2015