NEW VATICAN DOCUMENT TO ADDRESS ECONOMIC ISSUES

[The following report-- one in a series of daily reports on the activities of the special Synod of the Americas-- comes through the courtesy of the international news agency ZENIT, based in Rome.]

      The Holy See will publish a new document on how developing countries can deal with specific problems of internal poverty and external debt, Archbishop Francis Eugene George of Chicago revealed today.

      The forthcoming document will give practical advice on carrying out principles outlined in previous documents of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Archbishop George made the disclosure at a press conference at the Synod of Bishops for America.

      A frequent topic at the Synod has been the problem of external debt that burdens many Latin American nations.

      Archbishop George appeared with four other bishops to discuss the possible results of the historic Synod of Church leaders of America. Regarding economic issues, the Chicago primate warned about making hasty generalizations. He said that in recent years "neo- liberalism" has come under attack by critics who often do not understand what the term means.

      He also cautioned that the cancelation of nations' external debts will not automatically solve the problem of poverty. The Vatican and American bishops have been in dialogue with international institutions to help to solve the financial problems of developing nations. The new document being prepared by the Holy See will focus on these problems.

      Bishop Alcides Jorge Pedro Casaretto of San Isidro, Argentina, said that economic globalization represents the "current world order" and that the Church is seeking a "new world order." While financial institutions have a part to play in this new order, Bishop Casaretto emphasized that real changes in political and economic structures will first require a conversion of individuals. "This is the new civilization of love that many do not understand," he said. "The process of globalization requires a profound Christian solidarity."

      Archbishop Estanislao Esteban Karlic, president of the Argentine episcopal conference, admitted he was surprised by the positive atmosphere of the Synod. "I had fears because this was the first time that a meeting of this type was held," he said. "I had believed that misunderstandings would arise. Nonetheless, there has been a very fraternal spirit which has served to 'continentalize' the life of the Church." The Pope has insisted that the bishops of North and South consider America as one Continent.

      Archbishop Karlic called the Synod a fruit of the Second Vatican Council, which urged that the Church learn to read the signs of the times (Gaudium et Spes, No. 4). "One of the signs is globalization," the Paraná archbishop said. "This phenomenon of globalization has its risks ... but the Church also sees in it a climate of world unity, a kind of evangelical preparation that could contribute to the growth of communion among all people." He urged that international groups which exercise de facto control in the world should be more answerable to the people. "We cannot leave ourselves at the whims of someone whom we did not elect," he said.

      Bishop Ricardo Ramírez of Las Cruces, New Mexico, said that the Synod has helped to focus on new pastoral problems. For example, he said, Brazilian bishops have informed their US counterparts that there are about 1 million undocumented Brazilian immigrants in the United States.


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December 10, 1997 volume 8, no. 49         DAILY CATHOLIC