Buenos Aires (Agenzia Fides) - "We hope, for the coming year, to be able to renew attitudes and dispositions for democratic coexistence, leaving aside everything that increases divisions, endangers institutionalism and postpones the discussion of urgent issues in relation to poverty, social debt, education and the growth of the country": this is the wish expressed by the Argentine bishops, through the Executive Commission of the Episcopal Conference, in their message entitled "2023: a us that includes us and makes us all brothers".
The bishops of Argentina quote Pope Francis' message for the next World Day of Peace, January 1, which invites everyone to commit themselves to society and the planet, "creating the foundations for a more just and peaceful world, seriously committed to the pursuit of a true common good", (n.5). They then recall the celebrations of the sporting triumph of the national football team, during which the Argentines were able to "put aside differences and overcome divisions, in the exciting experience of common joy". Inspired by these attitudes, the bishops hope that during the new year which is about to begin, these provisions will be renewed in order to resolve together the various problems which afflict society with the sole objective of the common good.
“It is essential to overcome the excess that drives us to attack and disqualify those who do not think like us,” the message urges. The crisis we are going through obliges us, in this new year 2023, not to think only of preserving personal, partisan and electoral interests, but to seek decisively, with the greatest respect for the National Constitution, these basic consensuses which guarantee a commitment to overcome the urgent problems of the country". Finally, the bishops invoke the Child Jesus, born in the humility of the manger, for the necessary help "to live the Christmas Spirit which resounds in our hearts and bring peace for this new year that we are going to celebrate".
Argentina has been experiencing an economic, political and social crisis for a long time: inflation, now close to 100%, generates poverty (a situation in which a third of Argentines find themselves) and an increasing number of people who have to resort to soup kitchens , elderly people who do not even have the minimum to care for themselves, families whose income is insufficient to meet basic needs. Society and politicians are divided and opposed: the gap between the rich and the poor is widening and the number of those who suffer from this crisis is increasing, while the parties are unable to dialogue and seek realistic solutions.
The annual report on poverty published by the Social Debt Observatory of the Catholic University of Argentina
(ODSA-UCA), presented at the beginning of December, notes that 32.7% of families and 43.1% of people in Argentina are below the poverty line, an increase from the previous twelve months. The report points out that the country, although having experienced a post-pandemic phase, is unable to recover, indeed, in cities and metropolitan areas, poverty figures are on the rise. In 2022, families and the population of urban Argentina have not seen significant improvements in access to "well-being", even compared to 2010, the year of the first annual report, given the changes in access to food, health, basic services, education, health care. The employment rate in 2022 is 64.3%, in a context of widespread poverty, 23% are temporary jobs and around 50% of the labor force is not employed with full labor rights.
In the next presidential elections in Argentina, scheduled for October 29, 2023, nine candidates from two opposing blocs will compete, including two former presidents: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (2007-2015) and Mauricio Macri (2015-2019), as well as the current president, Alberto Fernandez. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 29/12/2022)
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