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Joint Communiqué of the Latin American and North American Bishops

 

Joint Communiqué of the Latin American and North American Bishops
participating in the “Ecumenical Meeting on Integration in the Americas”
organized by the Council of Latin American Episcopates, the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the
Inter-American Development Bank, September 8, 2005

Peace and blessings in the Lord to all the people of the one America for which we long and work!

Gathered together at the Ecumenical Meeting on Integration of the Americas on Trade, Growth and Poverty Reduction: Public Policy, Moral Aspects and Social Justice, we dialogued in a spirit of technical rigor about economic realities and ethical concern for human realities. We are bishops, priests, and lay Catholics from most of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, Canada and the United States. Our meeting included the participation of religious leaders from other Christian confessions and the Jewish faith, officials of the Inter-American Development Bank, the U.S. government and other experts. In a spirit of solidarity, we reflected on the moral and human effects of trade agreements on the common good of our communities and with a special concern for those who are poor and excluded.

We met at a time when our sisters and brothers along the Gulf Coast of the United States are struggling in the wake of the terrible devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The victims of this disaster are in our prayers. The reconstruction of the destroyed communities is on our minds. The mobilization by the Catholic community to be of assistance is in our hearts. We pledge our support and prayers to all those touched by these terrible events.

Hurricane Katrina reminded us of the fragility of the human condition, our common dignity, the vulnerability of the poor and the imperative of solidarity, especially in times of crisis. It is that same spirit of solidarity that permeated our discussions of the reality of the globalization of trade. Just as our concern focused on those who had lost so much in the hurricane, our concern in our discussions of trade focused on those who have so little.

We believe trade policies must be fashioned in ways that stimulate economic growth while at the same time giving priority to integral human development that builds solidarity, improves the common good of all, and in an essential way reduces poverty, exclusion and hunger. From our experience as pastors among our people, we have both hopes and concerns regarding trade agreements.

We hope that increased global trade will unleash creativity, initiative and economic growth. We hope that this economic growth will strengthen the capacity of our societies to provide for the common good and the desired integration of the Americas through education, health care, meaningful work, just wages, external debt cancellation and enriched cultural institutions.

We also have fears and concerns. The market has it own logic, but it does not have its own ethic. It requires what the Church calls a strong juridical framework of social institutions that can humanize it and channel the considerable energies of the market for the common good. This moral and juridical framework needs to ensure that intellectual property rights, access to technology and information, transparency and civil society participation, agricultural policies, labor standards, and environment regulations that promote sustainable development are each addressed in ways that promote the common good of all, especially the poor. If this is not done, then, as Pope John Paul II has said, “the poorest appear to have little hope” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 20) and “if there is no hope for the poor, there will be no hope for anyone” (Pastores Gregis, 67).

Global trade and trade agreements must be pursued in ways that strengthen citizen participation and situate economic policy within the wider arena of social policies that promote integral human development and strengthen communities. The moral measure of trade agreements should not be just the growth achieved and the products shipped, but the lives protected and the dignity enhanced, especially among the most vulnerable sectors.

Our meeting took place at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC. In this place dedicated to the life and leadership of John Paul II, we could not but be moved by his legacy. We recall that in the Great Jubilee Year 2000, our beloved Holy Father said: “It is important that the more global the market becomes, the more it must be balanced by a culture of solidarity. Attentive to the needs of the weakest, globalization needs a new culture, new rules and new institutions at the world level” (Address to Business-Trade Union Leaders, May 2, 2000). We hope that our gathering in some modest way responds to his call to humanize the process of globalization.

Signed by the following Participants:

Most Rev. Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, Archbishop of Mérida, Venezuela
Most Rev. Bernardo Hombach Lutkermeier, Bishop of Juigalpa, Nicaragua
Most Rev. Daniel Bohan, Archbishop of Regina, Canada
Most Rev. Eduardo Antonio Alfaro, Bishop of Chalatenango, El Salvador
Most Rev. Fernando María Bargalló, Bishop of Merlo-Moreno, Argentina
His Eminence Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, USA
Most Rev. Gregorio Rosa Chávez, Auxiliar Bishop of San Salvador, El Salvador
Most Rev. Jaime Prieto Amaya, Bishop of Barrancabermeja, Santander, Colombia
Most Rev. José Francisco Ulloa Rojas, Bishop of Cartago, Costa Rica
Most Rev. Julio Cesar Corniel, Bishop of Mar de Plata, Dominican Republic
Most Rev. Kelvin Edward Felix, Archbishop of Castries, Saint Lucia
Most Rev. Lino Panizza Richero, Bishop of Carabayllo, Peru
Most Rev. Luís Carlos Eccel, Bishop of Caçador, Brazil
Most Rev. Luis Morgan Casey, Apostolic Vicar of Pando, Bolivia
His Eminence Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Most Rev. Óscar Páez, Bishop Emeritus of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay
Most Rev. Pedro Barreto Jimeno, Apostolic Vicar of Jaén, Peru
Most Rev. Pierre-André Dumas, Auxiliary Bishop of Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Most Rev. Ricardo Ramírez, Bishop of Las Cruces, NM, USA
Most Rev. Roberto Lückert León, Bishop of Coro, Venezuela
Most Rev. Rubén Salazar Gómez, Bishop of Barranquilla, Colombia
Most Rev. Sergio Obeso Rivera, Archbishop of Xalapa, México
His Eminence Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, USA
Most Rev. Victor Hugo Martínez Contreras, Archbishop of Los Altos, Quetzaltenango, Totonicapán, Guatemala
Most Rev. Wilson Moncayo, Bishop of Santo Domingo de los Colorados, Ecuador

 


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