(Vatican Radio) Social justice, immigration and the disparity between the rich and the poor, were the main themes addressed by Pope Francis in his message to the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez, on the occasion of the seventh Summit of the Americas. Panama hosted the two-day summit, which gathered the heads of 35 states in North, Central and Southern America under the summit’s theme of “Prosperity with Equity: the Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas.” The Pope’s message was delivered by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Friday.
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The Pope noted the “inequity, unjust distribution of wealth and resources” in the region, which “are a source of conflict and violence among people.” He criticized the assumption that it is necessary to sacrifice others and their dignity for the sake of progress. Thus achieving a well-being that is unjust in its very roots and is contrary to the dignity of persons.
The Pope said no human being should be denied access to “basic goods,” such as land, work and a home, as well as “public services” such as health care, education and security.
However, the well-being of all is still far from the reality, the Pope said. Inequalities continue to offend the dignity of persons. He urged the leaders to rise to the great challenge of a globalisation of solidarity and fraternity, rather than the current globalisation of discrimination and indifference. As long as an equitable distribution of wealth is not achieved, the evils of our society will not be resolved.
The Pope noted the widening gap between the rich and the poor in emerging economies, despite overall economic progress. He said “trickle-down” economic theories have revealed themselves to be false. The poor, he said, cannot be expected to gather the crumbs that fall from the tables of the rich.
He said the direct action of governments in favour of the disadvantaged, particularly of families, is necessary.
The Pope also wanted to call the leaders’ attention “to the problem of immigration.” The immense disparity in economic opportunities in the various countries lead many people to feel obliged to leave their homeland. These people can then become easy prey to trafficking and slave labour, denying them rights and access to justice, he said.
Where there is a lack of cooperation between Nation States, many people are left outside of the law and are then unable to assert their rights, falling either to abuse or joining in abusive behaviour. Situations also exist, where the law is not a sufficient safeguard to protect people’s basic rights and that the standard used is without mercy and compassion and does not respond to justice.
He also referred to “scandalous and offensive differences, especially between indigenous populations located in rural areas or suburbs of large cities,” who have no defence against racism, xenophobia and intolerance.
The Pope encouraged the leaders to work together towards the common good. “Efforts to build bridges, channels of communication and the building of relations, are never sought in vain,” he said.
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