ZE08022808 – 2008-02-28Permalink: http://zenit.org/article-21922?l=english
Archbishop: Emigration Threatens Salvadoran Families
Says Country Remains Strong in Vocations and Life Issues
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The disintegration of the family provoked by emigration is a concern for the bishops of El Salvador, affirmed the president of that nation’s episcopal conference.Archbishop Fernando Sáenz Lacalle of San Salvador explained this and other challenges while in Rome for the five-yearly visit of El Salvador’s bishops, which was just completed. Benedict XVI addressed the bishops today.
Referring to the high number of emigrants — more that 2.5 million Salvadorans live in the United States — the archbishop told Vatican Radio that “the most worrisome situation is that of illegal emigrants who cannot return but only send money, and therefore do not see their own children who are being educated by the grandparents.”"A very concrete action of the Church is trying to maintain contact with the emigrants,” he said, highlighting that “many bishops of El Salvador gladly agree to visit Salvadoran communities outside the country, [and] there are also a lot of priests assigned to these communities.”
Along these lines, Archbishop Sáenz Lacalle said, seminarians are being sent to a seminary in Mexico, founded by Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, “to prepare priests to carry out their mission among emigrants to North America.”
Despite the strong tendency to emigrate, the prelate affirmed, the Salvadoran population is growing and movement within the country presents the problem of “how to provide adequate pastoral assistance to this part of the population, which implies the need of establishing new parishes.” “Thanks be to God,” he continued, “we have a lot of vocations and young priests and we think we form them well, thus we don’t have the need to seek outside aid.”
Archbishop Sáenz Lacalle also spoke about the problem of exploited metal mines, discussed in the most recent meeting of the nation’s episcopal council.”To begin,” he said, “there is a great injustice: Only 3% of the benefits from the mines go to the country, while 97% goes to mining businesses.
“The 75-year-old archbishop warned, though, that the graver question is the contaminating cyanide used to extract the metals: “And El Salvador is densely populated. The water used in the entire country comes from the north and the contamination of the population is very evident. It is logical, then, that we would sound the alarm about this problem.”
The Salvadoran episcopal assembly is also focused on life issues, specifically abortion.”Thanks be to God,” Archbishop Sáenz Lacalle said, “starting a few years ago, thanks to the activity of many Catholic organizations, we have collected a lot of signatures and obtained, with the vote of more than two-thirds of the deputies, an amendment to the first article of the Constitution, which speaks of respect for life, including the specification ‘from the moment of conception.’”
The archbishop added, “It has been a great result that has permitted the defense of life, impeding whatever legislation that facilitates or permits abortion.”Now, he continued, the bishops are “fighting to obtain another Constitutional reform that defines, or redefines, matrimony as a union between one man and one woman, to impede any type of union that is not that of matrimony.” In the same way, they want to “make it so that adoption is conceded only to heterosexual people who are rightly married.”
Some 83% of El Salvador’s near 7 million people are Catholic.