Vatican cardinal says assistance mentality has not solved poverty in Latin America

.- The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino, said history has shown that a mentality of simply giving assistance without fostering change (“asistencialismo”) has not solved the problem of poverty in Latin America, and instead “has aggravated it and favors corruption as well.”

During the Second Latin American and Caribbean Congress on the Social Doctrine of the Church, which took place in Mexico and was organized by CELAM, the cardinal said solidarity without subsidies “often leads to deceptive assistance, which should be definitively renounced because the recent history of many countries in the region shows that it has not provided an effective and long-lasting solution to the problems of development and to the combating of poverty.”

Cardinal Martino recalled the words of Pope John Paul II, who lamented that because of poverty “too many people live a life without hope.”   Nevertheless, he cautioned against “falling into the temptation of looking at and treating the masses of the poor as a problem, instead of as subjects and protagonists of a better and more humane future for the world.”

On the other hand, he worried that in the majority of Latin American countries, the poor are viewed as unable to be integrated into globalization.  They are people, the cardinal said, “who do not see how the State and the markets can help them, support them and pull them out of exclusion.”

He explained that this situation is linked to “backward ideas and stagnation” in the democratic processes, caused by “not keeping promises and by the perception (of the populace) that these systems do not contribute to improving the situation of the majority.”   In addition, he added, there are the problems of drug trafficking, corruption, lack of security, “silent attacks against life in its beginnings,” and the lack of full religious freedom.  

Cardinal Martino called for the building of “a continent for all” and he invited people to follow the principles of the social doctrine of the Church, in which the defense and promotion of human rights are fundamental.  These rights should have “clear boundaries that no political, judicial, national or international body can cross,” he added.

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