In Pope’s homeland, bishops say people are ‘starving’ in body and spirit


ROME — As Pope Francis’ native Argentina teeters on the brink of hyperinflation, ruled by a president and vice presidents at virtual war with each other, the country’s bishops say the people are “starving,” hungry in both body and mind.

“Today our homeland is a hungry, confused, worried and hurt people. Many families lack daily bread and decent work. Poverty has increased,” Archbishop Carlos Alberto Sánchez of Tucuman said Saturday.

“There is a thirst for justice and dignity, for respect and concern for life at all its stages. There is a thirst for social peace, respect for the constitution and genuine democracy.

“There is a thirst for dialogue, meeting and participation to overcome divisions and confrontations. There is a thirst for truth, for an education that puts the human person in the foreground, which does not impose ideologies, which leads to thinking and to achieving dignity,” he said.

“There is a thirst for freedom and a more secure and cordial life. There is a thirst for trust and common work among all for the good of all. There is a hunger for hope and consolation… There is a hunger for brotherhood and love”, saud Sánchez.

His remarks came on July 9, the day of Argentina’s independence from Spain. As is customary, a Te Deum (a ritual of thanksgiving to God) was celebrated in the Cathedral of Tucuman, a northern city where, in 1816, history was made in this South American nation.

Breaking with tradition, President Alberto Fernandez did not attend the ceremony despite his presence in Tucuman. He took part in an official celebration, but beyond that, he has hardly been seen in public since the resignation of Martin Guzman, former Minister of Economy, presented on July 2.

FILE – Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, right, and Vice President Cristina Fernandez attend a ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of state oil company YPF, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, June 3, 2022. The abrupt resignation of Argentina’s economy minister over the weekend of the first week of July 2022, plunged the country into an all-too-familiar sense of crisis and represented another sign of isolation for President Alberto Fernández who appears to be rapidly losing allies in the government coalition while Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is gaining ground. (Credit: AP Photo/Gustavo Garello, file)

Fernandez and his vice president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, have been clashing publicly for months, and the Guzman’s resignation is seen as a victory for her. However, the replacement failed to win the trust of the markets. The economy appears to be in freefall, generating fear leading to panic buying and precipitous price increases as the informal exchange rate soars.

Kirchner, a former president who continues to enjoy strong support despite accusations against Argentina’s justice system for corruption, mismanagement and embezzlement of public funds, chose Fernández, who lacked the political clout for his own candidacy. , to lead the ticket with her as vice-president shortly before the 2019 election.

The alliance was forged to defeat centre-right president Mauricio Macri, a conservative who replaced her. However, the tenuous coalition quickly began to deteriorate, and in recent months tensions have come fully to light, with the vice president openly criticizing Fernández in public speeches as the country continues to deteriorate.

Six out of ten people in Argentina have been poor at some point in the past decade and thirty percent of Argentines have known nothing but poverty, according to the Catholic Church’s annual report released in June.

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Bishop Oscar Ojea de San Isidro and president of the Argentine Episcopal Conference took advantage of July 9 to reflect both on the country’s economic difficulties, but also on what he called a “real political crisis”.

Ojea said it takes courage to overcome divisions in society, especially if Argentina wants to stop the thousands of young people who want to flee the country in search of better opportunities and economic stability.

“When we can learn to support those in need, we build the homeland. I am not talking about the homeland as a territorial extension or a consensus of wills that we call a “nation”, but about this homeland which has to do with the root of a new history.

“For that, we must have a lot of courage, a lot of decision, a lot of daring and a lot of creativity; especially, right now, management,” Ojea said.

Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma

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