I: POLITICS-MEXICO: Church Denounces ''Poverty-Generating'' Systems

-----Messaggio Originale-----
Da: "IGC News Desk" <newsdesk at igc.apc.org>
Newsgroup: misc.activism.progressive
Data invio: domenica 26 marzo 2000 5.26
Oggetto: POLITICS-MEXICO: Church Denounces ''Poverty-Generating'' Systems

       Copyright 2000 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
          Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

                      *** 24-Mar-0* ***

Title: POLITICS-MEXICO: Church Denounces ''Poverty-Generating'' Systems

By Diego Cevallos

MEXICO CITY, Mar 24 (IPS) - The Catholic Church of Mexico launched
harsh criticisms Friday against the nation's political and
economic systems, calling for changes in these ''poverty-
generating'' structures just one day after the government exhorted
the religious leaders to ''not mistake their role.''

In what is considered the most important pastoral letter of the
last 30 years, the Church calls on the people of Mexico - the
world's second-largest Catholic population after Brazil - to fight
to build a more just society.

The pastoral letter, titled ''From the encounter with Jesus
Christ to solidarity for all,'' was drafted after more than a year
of interviews with various social sectors and intense debates
within the Church, with conservative and progressive forces
weighing in.

The Mexican Catholic Church has not prepared such a broad and
consensus-driven document in the last 30 years, said archbishop
Luis Morales, president of the Conference of Bishops, who called
the letter a reflection on the solidarity-based, inclusive project
the country needs.

The priests made their pronouncement just one day after Interior
minister Di¢doro Carrasco had warned that no church should
''mistake its role.''

''We do not want politicians to lead mass or priests to govern,''
said Humberto Lira, assistant secretary of Religious Affairs, some
weeks back.

The Church will respect the autonomy of institutions but has the
responsibility to involve itself in all areas of Mexican life,
maintains the Conference of Bishops.

In late 1999, political activity began to heat up in Mexico on
the way to the July 2 elections, in which some 60 million Mexicans
will cast their ballots to elect president Ernesto Zedillo's
successor. Several candidates have included meetings with churches
as part of their campaign activities.

In the document, approved by the Conference of Bishops earlier
this month by a vote of 63 to three, the priests assert that the
benefits of economic reforms implemented in recent years were
evident only as macro-economic indicators and enjoyed by a limited
number of business sectors.

Poverty expanded during the last 20 years while wealth became
concentrated in fewer hands. Portions of the population, such as
indigenous peoples, are excluded from the nation's development
projects and the priority the government has placed on
globalisation has hurt the Mexican people's right to work and earn
decent wages, says the text.

In recent weeks, several international credit rating agencies and
investment risk analysts have congratulated the Mexican government
for the stability of its finances, the economic adjustments made
and the opening granted to trade and foreign capital.

As their applause sounded, more than 40 million poor continued to
wait for the Zedillo government to comply with its promise that
economic stability would translate into better living conditions.

According to World Bank studies, Mexico is among the Latin
American countries with greatest disparity in income.

The pastoral letter, finalised after eight drafts, is a guide for
members of the Church and for the reflection of all Mexicans, said
archbishop Morales.

The economic model that either tacitly or explicitly prioritises
the market as the central factor of development ''is unstable and
immoral,'' state the bishops in their 170-page letter.

The document is extensive and does not go into much detail on
some issues because it had to pass through many hands and
theological ''filters'' on its way to winning the consensus of the
bishops, explained Bernardo Barranco, an expert on religious

Mexico's democratic transition does not yet have its route
established, say the priests. The nation must consolidate
processes and institutions against ''anti-democratic and
fraudulent structures that are obsolete and unjust, and
deteriorated by corruption, impunity and authoritarianism.''

The religious leaders say Mexico, a country governed for the last
70 years by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is not
yet free from the threat of ''an authoritarian regression, even by
the electoral route. There are serious deficiencies in the
effective recognition of the right to a free and confidential

Mexico's governing party for the first time faces the possibility
of losing the presidential elections, given the increasing power
of the political opposition, say analysts. But PRI sources assure
they will win again, as always, because they are the best-
organised political force.

Origin: Montevideo/POLITICS-MEXICO/

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