Asunciòn (Agenzia Fides) - "Hoping for a better life for our people" is the title of a message issued by the Catholic Bishops of Paraguay at the end of a plenary assembly held 5- 9 November (see Fides 6/11/2007 and 8/11/2007) in which the Bishops analyse the main problems in the country today. Among the difficulties highlighted by the prelates, economic poverty. Although some progress has been made in the fields of healthcare, education and macro-economy and popular housing, - the Bishops say, the people "still lack adequate healthcare", "the education reform failed to guarantee adequate formation for teachers and left unsolved serious problems connected with education with regard to the teaching of values ”. The basic wage is too low, unemployment is rising and there is a lack of decent housing, equal distribution riches and national resources.
Moreover recent devastating fires and shortage of clean water in drought affected areas highlighted the lack of civil protection. Solidarity on similar occasions is not enough, the Bishops say, "it is necessary to adopt new forms of prevention and assistance".
Another problem examined by the Bishops is that of emigration and increasing numbers of people moving to towns, or leaving the country in search of a better life. The consequences of all this include "separation of families, brain drain of young professionals unable to see a future in their country, a drop in the numbers of qualified workers, and the slow disintegration of society".
With regard to the political situation in Paraguay, marked in the last 20 years by 'democratic opening', the bishops ask if authentic democracy really exists in the country. They say there is a lack of authentic critical spirit, real interest to promote the validity of the Common Good of the Nation, lack of convincing programmes to eradicate poverty, and the backward conditions of the people, aggression among candidates, lack of respect for individuals and the truth, lack of confidence in political leaders on the part of the people, little credibility of electoral promises, a widespread sense of concern for the future.
In this situation the Bishops urge those responsible for the common good "to offer rapid assistance to prevent and solve emergencies". The advise the government to establish with entrepreneurs, "specific programmes to create jobs and to meet the needs of the poorest families". Reminding the people of their right and duty to choose national leaders, the Bishops call for "active participation in the elections with a responsible vote, knowing that this can help eradicate corruption", and for a national effort "to ensure peaceful and democratic election campaigns in a climate of multiparty democracy, with respect for persons and the truth, avoiding all personal attacks and uncalled for offences launched without foundation or responsibility". (RG) (Agenzia Fides 12/11/2007; righe 40, parole 530)