Child malnutrition offends human dignity, warn Guatemalan bishops

The Bishops' Conference of Guatemala called on authorities to address the stark hunger and malnutrition facing thousands of children and rural workers in the country.

The current food crisis, affecting thousands of Guatemalans, "constitutes an affront to the dignity of all those who are suffering from it," the bishops said.

"This crisis, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, 'is more serious than the financial crisis,'" they added, pointing especially to the many "boys and girls who are chronically malnourished."

The bishops discussed the food crisis in a statement released at the conclusion of their plenary assembly, held Jan. 21-25.

They explained that the "very grave" plight of the many rural workers who are suffering from hunger, labor exploitation and other injustices cannot be set aside any longer.

Denouncing the continued problems of violence and social instability in Guatemala, the bishops called for a new development model that would allow for comprehensive, unified and sustainable progress.

This would require "a correct scale of values and goods," which should be structured with God as the ultimate frame of reference, they explained.

The bishops also encouraged the people of Guatemala to foster peace amid the atmosphere of conflict that has enveloped the country.

Noting that the nation's constitution upholds the right to life from the moment of conception as a basic principle, they stressed that the call to be a peacemaker requires "the defense of human life in all its stages."

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