.- The Ecuadoran daily El Universo reported last week that the president of the Ecuadoran Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza, denounced the anti-clericalism of the government of President Rafael Correa during his speech before the Pope at the conclusion of the ad limina visit by the country's bishops.
Archbishop Arregui pointed out that the bishops' criticism of some aspects of Correa's controversial constitutional reformâespecially in the areas of right to life, marriage, the family, and the rights of parentsâresulted in an unusually hostile reaction from the government.
The government, he said, employed a multimillion dollar campaign, "as aggressive as it was inaccurate, in an attempt to discredit the bishops by labeling their criticism as "political" and "subservient to the opposition."
The archbishop says the country is experiencing a prolonged crisis, "the roots of which we have identified as moral in various statements."
Politically, he explained, "the crisis has provoked an incessant popular outcry for changes that will help overcome the degrading living conditions of so many."
The government's failure to respond to the people has led to a distrust of democracy and increased instability, the archbishop stressed.
During the visit, Pope Benedict XVI congratulated the bishops for their courage and encouraged them to continue exercising their right to speak out in public.