Pontiff Attentive to Poverty, Democracy in Latin America
Calls Residents to Become "Architects of Their Own Development"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 8, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The struggle against poverty and in favor of democracy are the two great challenges that Benedict XVI perceives in Latin America at the beginning of 2007.
The Pope expressed this today to the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, reminding them that next May he will travel to Brazil to attend the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean.
In his analysis of the Latin American situation, the Holy Father said that "the improvement in certain economic indicators, the commitment to combat drug-trafficking and corruption, the various processes of integration, the efforts to improve access to education, to fight unemployment and to reduce inequalities in the distribution of revenues -- these are all signs to be viewed with satisfaction."
"If these developments are consolidated, they will be able to make a decisive contribution to overcoming the poverty that afflicts vast sectors of the population and to increasing the stability of institutions," he said.
Referring to the fact that, between Nov. 2005 and Dec. 2006, elections took place in 11 countries of Latin America, the Pontiff underlined "that democracy is called to take into account the aspirations of the citizens as a whole, and to promote increasing respect for all the components of society, according to the principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and justice."
Benedict XVI added: "The practice of democracy must not be allowed to turn into the dictatorship of relativism, by proposing anthropological models incompatible with the nature and dignity of the human person."
Colombia, Cuba, Haiti
The Pope mentioned Colombia because of his concern over "the long internal conflict" which has "provoked a humanitarian crisis, especially as far as displaced persons are concerned."
The Holy Father said: "Every effort must be made to bring peace to the country, to return to families their loved ones who have been kidnapped, to restore security and normal life for millions of people.
"Such signs will give confidence to everyone, including those who have been implicated in the armed struggle."
The Pontiff then turned his attention to Cuba, voicing "the hope that all its inhabitants may realize their legitimate aspirations, amid concern for the common good."
He repeated the exhortation Pope John Paul II gave upon visiting the Caribbean island in 1998: "Let Cuba open itself to the world, and let the world open itself to Cuba."
"Mutual openness to other countries can only bring benefits for all concerned," Benedict XVI added.
The review of Latin America led the Holy Father to state that, not far from Cuba, "the people of Haiti continue to live in great poverty surrounded by violence."
The Pope expressed the hope that "the interest of the international community -- manifested among other things by the conferences of donors that took place in 2006 -- will lead to the consolidation of institutions and will allow the people to become the architects of their own development, amid a climate of reconciliation and harmony."