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Free Trade Agreement outside purview of Church’s mission, bishop says

.- The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica, Bishop Jose Francisco Ulloa Rojas of Cartago, said this week that it is not the duty of the Church to make a judgment about a continued Free Trade Agreement with the United States.  “We aren’t stating a position because it is not the mission of the Church,” he said.

The Bishop said bishops and priests should provide the moral and ethical foundation upon which lawmakers can make decisions on behalf of the people.  “The Church provides light so that the decision whether or not to approve this treaty be truly voluntary and benefit Costa Rica in the best way possible,” Bishop Rojas said.  He emphasized that the bishops have been encouraged in their stance by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, who sent a letter to the Costa Rican bishops providing “guidance and enlightenment, and encouraging dialogue and unity in all aspects of Costa Rican life.”

“We are not going to take sides in any way, but rather we intend to collaborate in seeking conciliation and dialogue between the different positions,” Bishop Rojas added.

Bishop Angel Sancasimiro Fernandez of Quesada seconded Bishop Roja’s statements and added that the discussion of the issue should take place in the Costa Rican parliament and should extend to all sectors of the country.

Asked if he supported a referendum on the Free Trade Agreement, Bishop Fernandez responded, “It’s not for us to say yes or no.  What we believe simply is that there should be as much dialogue as possible, because the issue that is being discussed will have a great impact on Costa Rica.  It’s not for us to say whether it should be this way or that,” the bishop noted.

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