Panama (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic Bishops of Panama issued a statement at the end of a plenary meeting 7 - 11 January during which the Bishops reflected on various aspects in the life of the local Church and the implementation of the Document of Aparecida and on issues related with the national situation illuminated by a vision of faith.
In the statement the Bishops reflect on situations in the Church and the country. Important church events noted by the Bishops included: the official presentation on 15th January of the new encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI Spe Salvi; the Year of St Paul as an opportunity to learn more about St Paul "an heroic example of fidelity to the mandate of the Lord to be a disciple and a missionary to face the challenges to the inculturation of the Gospel, globalisation and ethical issues"; the Document of Aparecida must be diffused and implemented; 2008 marks the beginning of a five year period of preparation for the 500 years of the life of the Church in Panama; celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the visit by the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, 5 March 1983; a Youth Meeting 17 - 20 January in the diocese of Chitré; the centenary of the presence of the Salesians in Panama.
With regard to the situation of the country the Bishops identify six concerns: increasing cost of living and 37.3 per cent of the population in critical situation of poverty; confidence with regard to a process of National Development Agreement, and commitment in various social sectors to strive to build a better country; they say effective execution of programmes must be guaranteed; in the pre-election year "campaigns of discredit, insults, threats and waste of money" must be avoided; they call for a repetition of the Electoral Moral Pact which helped in the past "to ensure a high level campaign and consolidate democracy".
A major problem identified by the Bishops' Conference is lack of security for citizens, due to spreading violence. They urge everyone to work to find a solution to violence "which has its roots in "little attention to education, social inequality and exclusion and especially separation of families". With regard to the ecosystem and plans to develop hydroelectric plants, exploitation of minerals, destruction of forests, the Bishops say economic interests which destroy sources of life for nations and the whole of humanity not prevail"; concern for the dignity of the human person in the family context: "parents have the natural and irreplaceable duty to educate their children" "any attempt to change systems of education or introduce or eliminate areas of formation, is unacceptable without the participation of parents". (RG) (Agenzia Fides 14/1/2008; righe 36, parole 516)