Argentina’s bishops warn of narcos, poverty, end of social policies

The Episcopalian Conference issued a statement raising concern about a society ‘ruled by individualism and a loveless kind of freedom’

The 124th Assembly of the Argentine Episcopalian Conference, which gathers catholic bishops across the country, issued a statement Friday raising concerns about the nation’s current social and economic hardships that “affect human dignity”.

The Assembly’s document — entitled In times of hardship, love the others and bring joy to their lives — targeted some of the harshest consequences of the government’s austerity policies and spending cuts. They described “senior citizens having to choose between eating or buying their medicine” and “soup kitchens shutting down for lack of support, taking away people’s chance to get a daily meal.”

The bishops specifically referred to the drug-trafficking crisis as a “pandemic” that is “using the poor as waste material, promoting contract killings, drawing blood-stained money to seduce members of the political, judicial and business world.” 

They also mentioned a current attack on “unborn children,” as well as on the sacred lives of millions of children “torn between misery and marginalization.” According to UNICEF estimates, the child poverty rate could reach 70% in the first quarter of 2024. 

This is the second time the Episcopalian Conference, led by Monsignor Oscar Ojea, has raised concerns about the consequences of the government’s economic policies. On March 12, the Conference’s board met with President Milei at Casa Rosada, where they brought up the struggles of soup kitchens to obtain state support. 

Last year, Ojea pleaded for a more humane form of politics following Milei’s verbal attacks on the Pope. Milei has previously called him a “representative of the Devil on Earth” and a “Jesuit who promotes communism.”

Friday’s statement — which concluded the bishop’s week-long gathering at the “El Cenáculo” Retreat in the Buenos Aires district of Pilar — specifically targeted the government’s decision to “discontinue public policies meant to integrate low-income neighborhoods” which had been established “thanks to the consensus of different governments and legislative representatives from the entire political spectrum”. 

President Milei’s fervent beliefs in economic freedom and unapologetic libertarianism also appear to be targets of the Church’s document, which concludes by stating that gestures of love and joy are “the most explicit expression of the Gospel in a society that seems to be living in constant confrontation, ruled by individualism and a loveless kind of freedom.” 


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald