Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

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Guatemala: Social Justice


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAY 2008 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Acisclo Valladares Molina, the new ambassador of Guatemala to the Holy See.

In his remarks to the diplomat, the Holy Father recalled the fact that this year marks the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s first pastoral visit to that land “of eternal spring”, and he praised the faithfulness to the Bishop of Rome with which the Guatemalans have always responded to the Holy See’s concern for their country.

“The Church”, said the Pope, “shares the concern of the Guatemalan authorities over factors that afflict a large part of the population, such as poverty and emigration. Her rich ecclesial experience, accumulated over the course of history, may be of help in finding the means to face these problems from a humanitarian perspective, and to strengthen solidarity which is indispensable in order to find effective and lasting solutions”.

“In this way”, he continued, “crucial technical and economic programmes must be supplemented by other factors that foment the dignity of the person, the stability of the family and an education that takes the most important human and Christian values into account”. Nor must “those people who have had to abandon their land, though not forgetting it in their hearts” be overlooked. “This is a duty of gratitude and justice towards those who are, in effect, also an important source of income for the country in which they were born”.

Another challenge facing Guatemala is that of “remedying the malnutrition of many children”, said Benedict XVI, observing how “eradicating hunger and, at the same time, ensuring healthy and sufficient nourishment, requires specific methods and actions that enable resources to be exploited while respecting the heritage of creation”, making use not only “of the results of science, research and technology”, but also taking into account “the cycles and rhythms of nature, as understood by people in rural areas” and protecting “the traditional uses of indigenous communities, laying aside selfish and exclusively economic concerns”.

This primary right to food, said the Pope, “is intrinsically linked to the protection and defence of human life, the firm and unbreakable rock upon which the entire edifice of human rights rests. We can never, then, show enough … concern for mothers, especially those suffering serious difficulties, so that they can bring their children into the world with dignity and thus avoid the unjustifiable recourse to abortion. In this sense, safeguarding human life, especially that of the unborn, … is an ever present task which, by its nature, is linked to facilitating the adoption of the children” with all the guarantees of the law.

In closing his remarks, the Holy Father mentioned “the blight of social violence” which is often exacerbated by “a lack of dialogue and of cohesion in families, by profound economic inequalities, by grave negligence and shortcomings in the field of healthcare, by drug consumption and trafficking, and by the plague of corruption”. In this context, he expressed his satisfaction at the progress Guatemala has made in combating these difficulties, progress “which must continue, promoting co-operation among everyone to put an end to such problems by cultivating moral values and combating illegality, impunity and corruption”.


Filed under: Migration, Social Doctrine, Social Justice

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