The Ecuadoran bishops' conference issued a statement Thursday in response to recent comments by President Rafael Correa, surprised reporters during a conference at the University of Oxford in which he complained that Pope Benedict XVI should issue an encyclical that addresses social issues.
The bishops' statement noted that at the Oxford conference, Correa “passed negative judgment on the bishops of Latin America, and consequently, the bishops of Ecuador. He called on the Holy Father to issue an encyclical on various issues and said his political agenda was the fruit of the Church’s social teaching.”
The bishops added that they recognize their particular responsibility to “care for the Sacred Liturgy, the rites, because they are the source of the Christian life and the sustenance for our mission in the world.” But, they noted that they “also have concern for the failures and problems of individuals, because we try to serve our faithful in a personalized way, without treating them as anonymous members of a group.”
After pointing out that “social sins don’t just appear out of nowhere, but rather are the accumulation of moral deficiencies of individuals,” the bishops explained that “the vocation to social service of the Ecuadoran episcopate is expressed in its continual teaching and in more than three thousands ministries in support of those in need.”
They added that this service has been ongoing “for many years and spread throughout the provinces of the country.”
The bishops also reminded President Correa that Pope Benedict XVI, “in the recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate, addressed current-day problems, from globalization and immigration to climate change and biogenetics.”
“There is only one faith,” they continued, “and the Church is everyone’s house, especially the poorest. Within the Church, each believer has the right to choose whichever political path he feels is best, as long as there is no discrepancy with the principles of the faith. It is also part of Catholic sensibility to treat the Holy Father with love and respect,” they concluded.