Friday, April 16, 2010

Rio: Prophets of Ecology Are Lacking

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at LeonardoBoff.com.

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)
4/16/2010

Between April 5th and 8th of this year, the State of Rio de Janeiro (the city and neighboring ones, especially Niterói) experienced the largest flood of the past 48 years. There was extensive flooding in the main street, landslides, a one and a half meter rise in the level of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, caused in part by the high tide that prevented the drainage of rainwater. The most terrible thing was the death of hundreds of people buried under tons of earth, trees, rocks and trash.

There seem to be three main causes which led to this tragedy, which from time to time descends upon the city, which is charming for its landscape which combines sea, mountains and forest, and its warm and welcoming people.

The first is the floods themselves, typical of these subtropical areas. But with an aggravating factor, which is global warming. Rio's tragedy should be analyzed in the context of others that have occurred in the southern part of the country, with hurricanes and prolonged rains with massive landslides and hundreds of victims, and in the city of São Paulo, which suffered floods for more than a month that left whole neighborhoods under water continuously. Some analysts speak of changes in hydrological cycles caused by the warming of the waters of the Atlantic, as has already occurred in the Pacific. This picture will tend to recur more often and even more intensely as global warming continues to worsen.

The climatic tragedy brought to light the social tragedy experienced by the most needy populations. This is the second cause. There are over 500 favelas (poor communities), perched on the slopes of the mountains that snake around the city. Not that they are to blame for the landslides, as the governor noted. People live in these risk areas because they simply do not have anywhere else to go. There is a remarkable general insensitivity to the poor, the result of the elitism of our slave and colonial tradition. The State is organized not to serve the entire population, but mainly the affluent. There has never been a consistent public policy to include the favelas as part of the city and therefore urbanize them, ensuring safe housing, sewerage, water, and electricity infrastructure, and, not least, transportation. There have always been poor policies for the poor, who are the vast majority of the population, and rich policies for the rich. The consequence of this neglect is revealed in the disasters that destroy the lives of hundreds of people.

The third cause is what I would call lack of "prophets of ecology." Observing the flooded streets and avenues, all kinds of garbage, bags full of waste, plastic bottles, wooden boxes, and even sofas and cabinets could be seen floating on the water. That is, the people had not incorporated a basic ecological attitude of taking care of the garbage they produce. That garbage clogged sewers and stormwater drains, causing the sudden rise in storm water and its slow evacuation.

Porto Alegre, in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, offers a good example. Under the guidance of a Marist brother, Antônio Cecchin, who has been working for years in the poor areas that surround the city, the installation of hundreds of garbage disposal points was organized. About twenty large warehouses were erected near downtown, on the tip of Grande dos Marinheiros island, where garbage is sorted, cleaned and sold to different factories that reuse it.

He raised the awareness of the garbage collectors that their job is helping to keep the city clean so that it can be a place where people can live happily. The garbage collectors proudly wrote their dignified title in large letters on the back of each of their carts: "Prophets of Ecology."

They made the words of one of our greatest environmentalists, José Lutzenberger their ideal: "A single garbage collector does more for the environment in Brazil than the minister of the environment himself." If there had been these "prophets of ecology" in the State of Rio de Janeiro, the flooding would have been less overwhelming and hundreds of lives would have been saved.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Greensburg bishop denies women's order recruitment request

UPDATE 4/16/2010: The story has already been picked up in today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Greensburg bishop, sisters at odds over health bill. Also today, NCR reports that Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., has demanded that the Catholic Health Association remove St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island from its membership rolls, calling its affiliation with the association “embarrassing”...Catholic Hospital Association spokesman Fred Caesar said that Tobin's request was granted and that one other hospital said it may not renew its membership in the association, but no others have left.

Exemplary ecclesial leadership: Blocking vocations and weakening women's congregations as a political tool in the health care reform battle...This is beyond outrageous. If you are not about building up the Church and religious life, Bishop Brandt, what exactly ARE you about? But, perhaps once the local and national media pick up on this story, you will have helped the sisters get a lot of publicity for their order and they won't need the space in the diocesan newspaper...

By Judy Gross
National Catholic Reporter
April 14, 2010

Citing a women religious order’s support for the recently passed health care bill, Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg, Pa., has prohibited it from advertising upcoming vocation recruitment events.
The result is that the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, Pa., will not be allowed to promote recruitment with the support of diocesan media.


...Sister of Social Service Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, issued a statement on behalf of that lobbying organization lauding the Catholic Health Association’s stand. She also drafted a letter to members of Congress that she distributed to many leaders of women’s religious orders, urging passage of the Senate bill.

...The leadership team of the St. Joseph Sisters of Baden was one signatory. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, Pa., operate out of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where the motherhouse is situated. Greensburg is a neighboring diocese, where the sisters have a long history of service.

According to spokeswoman Barbara Hecht, the St. Joseph Sisters earlier this month requested promotional support through Greensburg parishes for a vocations program being offered at the sisters’ convent, scheduled for April 25. Congregations of women religious typically seek promotional support for programs through parish bulletins and other communications.

Following that request, Msgr. Lawrence T. Persico, vicar general of the Greensburg diocese, wrote a letter, dated April 8, to priests in the diocese, stating that no diocesan office, The Catholic Accent (the diocesan newspaper), nor any parish “would promote a vocation awareness program of any religious community that has taken a stance against the United States bishops by being a signatory of the Network document.”
...

Full text of article...


Photo: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden leadership team: (from front left) Sister Rosanne Oberleitner and Sister Mary Pellegrino, and (from back left) Sister Carolyn Bodenschatz and Sister Marguerite Coyne.

Fr. Michael Pfleger: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire

Not even two years ago, St. Sabina's fiery pastor, Fr. Michael Pfleger, was ordered to take a leave of absence by Chicago Archbishop Francis Cardinal George. The censure followed a homily in which Fr. Pfleger made racially-charged remarks about Hillary Clinton's attitude towards her rival Barack Obama's lead in the polls. He was reinstated following protests from his parishioners and other supporters.

Now, Fr. Pfleger is back in hot water -- this time for supporting women's ordination. The priest had just been honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office for Racial Justice on April 7th at a ceremony presided over by Cardinal George. In remarks that reflect the relationship between this priest and his superior, Cardinal George said:

Fr. Pfleger has been a controversialist; and controversy is easier to report on than is love. Fr. Plfeger has spoken in anger, sometimes unjustly or uncharitably; and anger is easier to capture on the camera than is love. But Fr. Pfleger is a Catholic priest and a pastor, and in that capacity, like all good priests and pastors, he acts out of love. Ask his people. Ask the sick he has visited and the dying he has attended. Ask the troubled he has consoled. Ask the young people he has counseled and the school children he has supported. As part of his ministry for racial justice, Fr. Pfleger has addressed killing, for killing is not an act of love...

Then, in the context of a homily for Divine Mercy Sunday on the need to overcome fear, Fr. Pfleger related how Christ's disciples had deserted him when he was taken to be crucified. "They ran away when he most needed them. Only John at the foot of the Cross," he said. "And the women," he added and proclaimed to applause: "Hmm. That's why there should be woman priests. That's why there should be married priests. That's why there should be women bishops and women cardinals."




According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Fr. Pfleger issued a sort of apology for his remarks:

“On Sunday, April 11, while preaching a sermon on the power of fear, I was referring to the fear that paralyzed the apostles, locking them in a room, leaving only John and the women at the foot of the cross. I stated that is why I believe women ought to be able to be ordained, as well as priests ought to be able to get married...While this is my personal opinion, I do respect and follow the Catholic Church teachings, and I am sorry I failed to do this.”


And the priest expressed his own opinion about the controversy:

“There’s four people murdered 10 minutes away from me in Marquette Park, there are shootings last night in the neighborhood where I live, and hundreds are killed in China, but people are more concerned with an opinion of a priest who said something for 15 seconds in a sermon...It’s discouraging to me that no one’s emailing me or calling me to say, ‘How can I help you save our children?’ . . . But they’re emailing me over an opinion voiced in 15 seconds."

MORE INFORMATION

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Benedetti's "Te Quiero"

One thing always leads to another with this blog. I was looking at what people were searching for on the blog and found someone searching for the late Uruguayan poet Mario Benedetti's "El Padrenuestro Latinoamericano" (see earlier post on the poet's death for the text of this poem). That led to a look at videos of people reading this poem and that led to related videos.


So I clicked on one called "Te Quiero", also based on a poem by Mario Benedetti, and what joy to find out that it was this love song that I had not heard since graduate school. It was on a cassette that Alice, a self-styled Marxist-Leninist student who was dating another revolutionary from some Third World country, gave me. I never knew that the lyrics were by a famous poet but I loved what they say about what makes a good partner. In those days, I prayed for someone who would be like the person in this song. Eventually God opened my eyes and I saw that, for me, that person is Jesus. El es "mi amor mi cómplice y todo".

With a double wedding coming up this Saturday in our charismatic prayer group, I'm in the mood to share it with the world. Here is the original version by Argentinian singer Nacha Guevara who has a gorgeous voice. For those who prefer the spoken word, you can hear the poet himself reading Te Quiero. I've also included the words in Spanish and an English translation by Nina Serrano from La Raza Chronicle. I'm not happy with "accomplice" as a translation for "cómplice". The use of the word "complicity" in romance languages for an element of intimate relationships is very difficult to render into English. "Accomplice" sounds too much like "Bonnie and Clyde"; "partner" doesn't seem to convey the same intimacy; "soul mate" is too other-worldly. It's all of those and more...

If you are looking for the partitura to this song, it can be found here, arranged for four voices. The music is by Alberto Favero.





TE QUIERO
de Mario Benedetti

Tus manos son mi caricia
mis acordes cotidianos
te quiero porque tus manos
trabajan por la justicia

si te quiero es porque sos
mi amor mi cómplice y todo
y en la calle codo a codo
somos mucho más que dos

tus ojos son mi conjuro
contra la mala jornada
te quiero por tu mirada
que mira y siembra futuro

tu boca que es tuya y mía
tu boca no se equivoca
te quiero porque tu boca
sabe gritar rebeldía

si te quiero es porque sos
mi amor mi cómplice y todo
y en la calle codo a codo
somos mucho más que dos

y por tu rostro sincero
y tu paso vagabundo
y tu llanto por el mundo
porque sos pueblo te quiero

y porque amor no es aureola
ni cándida moraleja
y porque somos pareja
que sabe que no está sola

te quiero en mi paraíso
es decir que en mi país
la gente viva feliz
aunque no tenga permiso

si te quiero es porque sos
mi amor mi cómplice y todo
y en la calle codo a codo
somos mucho más que dos



I LOVE YOU
by Mario Benedetti

(English Translation by Nina Serrano)

Your hands are my caress
my daily reminders
I love you because your hands
work for justice

if I love you it's because you are
my love my accomplice and my everything
and in the street arm in arm
we are many more than two

your eyes are my spell
against a cursed day
I love you for your gaze
that looks and plants the future

your mouth that is yours and mine
your mouth doesn’t lie
I love you because your mouth
knows how to shout rebellion

if I love you it's because you are
my love my accomplice and my everything
and in the street arm in arm
we are many more than two

and for your open face
and your wanderer’s footstep
and your weeping for the world
because you are of the people I love you.

and because love is not a halo
nor morality tale
and because we are a couple
that knows it is not alone

I love you in my paradise
which is to say that in my ideal country
people live happily
without even having permission

if I love you it's because you are
my love my accomplice and my everything
and in the street arm in arm
we are many more than two


Photo: L-r: Alberto Favero (composer), Nacha Guevara (singer), and Mario Benedetti (poet/lyricist)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Church Sex Abuse Scandal: What Is Not Helpful

1. Hyperbole: As recently as last Saturday night, I have heard members of the Catholic clergy -- even ones whom I consider to be very intelligent -- responding to the spate of stories in the media about the latest round of child sex abuse revelations as if people were trying to take down the Pope and/or the entire Catholic Church. This is just a complete over-reaction and does nothing to help address the real problem of ridding the priesthood of those who would harm our children and restoring the credibility of the Church as an institution.

2. Accusing the Victims of Lying: While it may be comforting to believe that a substantial portion of those who accuse priests of molestation are making their stories up as a means of getting a financial settlement, the unfortunate reality is that almost all of the charges that have been brought forward have been found to be true. Yet in my prayer group on Friday we heard a predicador say that many of the accusations are fraudulent. Sitting next to me as he spoke was a woman who was molested by a priest as a teenager in her country and, because nobody believed and helped her, spent most of her life away from the Church. Because of their mother's alienation, her children were not raised in the Church and still do not attend, even though this woman has now found healing and come back. I can only imagine how hurtful the predicador's words must have been to her.

3. Equating Pedophilia and Homosexuality: Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone: ""Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated there exists no relationship between celibacy and pedophilia...But many others have demonstrated, and have told me recently, that there is a link between homosexuality and pedophilia. This is true, this is the problem." Unfair, hurtful, and untrue. While I agree with Cardinal Bertone and many others that the celibacy requirement is not responsible for pedophilia, he is simply wrong about homosexuality. The only study that I know about that breaks down the behavior of priests who have violated their celibacy vows by partner -- Pepe Rodriguez's La Vida Sexual del Clero -- shows that 53% had sex with adult women, 21% with adult men, 14% with juvenile males, and 12% with juvenile females. It is far more likely that the small difference in percentages with juvenile males vs. females is due to the fact that pedophilia is largely a crime of opportunity and priests are more likely to have access to juvenile males in seminary schools or as altar boys -- female altar servers being a relatively recent phenomenon. Cardinal Bertone's remarks are also a huge injustice to the number of gay priests who have been faithful to their celibacy vows and have never abused anyone of any age.

Please, let's calm down and think before we speak about this issue.

Padre Jony: The Faro de Vigo Interview

by Javier Mosquera (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Faro de Vigo
4/11/2010

Joan Enric Reverté, Padre Jony, founded his first band, Seminari Boys, while he was in seminary. He studied voice, piano, and conducting and later electric guitar and singing in various contemporary music academies. He is pastor of San Pedro Apóstol on Les Cases d´Alcanar, in Tarragona, and he created the Fundación Provocando la Paz, which finances solidarity projects in Guatemala, Sierra Leona and Equatorial Guinea.

He was the opening act for Rosendo in a concert, which he remembers fondly, held in the Castrelos auditorium in Vigo five years ago in the middle of August and is now preparing for another performance in Tui, Galicia on Saturday the 24th that coincides with the installation of the new bishop of the Diocese.

Did they know about this coincidence?

Yes, the organizers left it that way. The idea is that after the installation at the cathedral, everyone goes to the concert...

Are you going to go to the cathedral?

It won't be possible for me to go. We will be involved in installing the equipment and making sound checks.

You aren't new around here, you have already been at Castrelos. Do you have good memories of it?

It was a great celebration, a very exciting concert. The young people thoroughly enjoyed themselves and, indeed, that's where I met the organizers of the concert on the 24th, Juventud Unida en Marcha (Youth United on the March), they thought what I was doing fit with their approach and hence the performance in a few days.

Are you planning more performances in Galicia?

No. Despite it's being a Holy Year, there is nothing planned. I propose celebrating a rock Mass in the cathedral of Santiago, which would be the high point of the Xacobeo.

Do you know this part of Galicia well?

I had occasion to walk through Vigo and went down to Portugal. I sensed the warmth of the people, who recognized me. The landscape is very beautiful.

You're a pastor, you give concerts, you promote solidarity organizations...Where do you find the time?

It's all a matter of good coordination and being tired a lot. I try to prioritize at every moment. Sometimes it's the parish that takes more of my time, especially during the designated feast days, at other times it's the concerts or preparing an album...It's all integrated within me, I don't have any free time...

And the concerts?

More and more places are calling for me. People are not indifferent to what I do and I think that's good. My style and social commitment are valued. Young people see strong and powerful elements such as peace and solidarity.

Do you find mistrust within the church itself?

"Well ... It's not up front, but it's there. In the back, some would like to close doors, but it's a small part. Most are excited, because they see this as a breath of fresh air.

And among your older parishioners?

The young have always been my priority, and they need more support and more opportunities, but as a diocesan priest I am "all-terrain" and I notice a certain mistrust among the seniors who ask themselves: What will become of us with a "long hair"? But those prejudices are falling away.

Do you have imitators now?

There are some priests who have finally decided to do something similar, but not as groundbreaking. They are singer/songwriters or they celebrate more youth Masses. Others promote social values that young people can better identify with.

In your songs, you touch on social issues. Have you ever taken up the hot topic of pedophilia?

We have to be blunt. They are a small part [of the Church] and do a lot of harm. That has to be brought to justice and to God, and if they are sick, let them be treated. If things are done differently in the Church, this could be avoided in the future. We must thoroughly investigate what loneliness or illness there is, to prevent harm to innocents. Celibacy is generosity but if it is not borne well, it can be a disaster.

Listen...Which of your songs have been most successful?

“Pescador de hombres”, “Aborregau”, which is the hymn of the Plataforma Antiaborregamiento, and “Las tribus”, the rock and rap version of "Qué alegría, cuando me dijeron, vamos a la Casa del Señorrr..."

Photo: Padre Jony opening for Rosendo.

Activists, officials laud verdict in nun's death

Sometimes we get to see justice done...

By Tales Azzoni
Associated Press
4/13/2010

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - A Brazilian rancher's conviction for the murder of a U.S. nun in the Amazon could help discourage attacks on rain forest activists that for decades have largely gone unpunished, environmentalists and legal officials said Tuesday.

Vitalmiro Moura was sentenced to 30 years for ordering the killing of 73-year-old Dorothy Stang in 2005 because she blocked him and another rancher from taking over land the government gave to farmers.

Hundreds of activists have been killed in Brazil in the last 20 years — but only about 80 triggermen, usually paid by powerful ranchers with land claims at stake, were behind bars before Tuesday. Moura is the only so-called mastermind of one of the killings to join them, raising hopes that the climate of impunity in the Amazon is finally nearing an end.

"It's obviously a sign that the times of violence without consequence are ending," said Paulo Adario, director of Greenpeace's Amazon campaign. "Putting the man accused of a brutal killing in jail shows to those who fight to protect the Amazon and to the criminals that violence will not go unpunished."

Moura denied any involvement in the killing and said he didn't even know the victim. Alex Noronha, one of his court-appointed lawyers, said he believes Moura is innocent but called the ruling "the manifestation of the society's will." He added that Moura would have to hire an attorney if he wants to appeal.

The case against the wealthy rancher was seen as a test of Brazil's ability to strengthen the rule of law in the largely lawless Amazon, which is also plagued by illegal activities such as unauthorized logging, and the prosecutor and the judge involved called the outcome a victory for the legal system.

"The judiciary showed that it does not succumb to the interests of the powerful," prosecutor Edson Cardoso was quoted as saying by the state news service Agencia Brasil.

"The verdict and sentencing sent a clear message that the law will be applied to everyone independent of his socio-economic status," Judge Raimundo Moises Alves Flexa said.

However both the judge and the Greenpeace activist cautioned that more convictions in similar cases are necessary if activists are to be truly protected.

"It could be a first small step, but there is still a long way to go," Flexa said.

Jurors found Moura guilty late Monday after 15 hours of deliberations, sparking jubilant celebrations from family members of Stang, supporters and activists who had camped and prayed outside the court.

"Justice has been made," David Stang told reporters in Belem. "My sister would be very happy. She believed in the Brazilian judicial system."

A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a naturalized Brazilian citizen, Dorothy Stang worked for three decades to preserve the rain forest and defend poor settlers' land rights.

Nun Rebeca Spires, who has worked in Brazil for four decades and knew Stang for 35 years, called the ruling a milestone victory: Because there is an "endless supply" of gunmen available for hire in the Amazon, she said, the ranchers who hire them must be imprisoned if the violence is to stop.

"We've waited so long for this verdict. This conviction sends a strong message to the other masterminds that the impunity is ending," Spires said.

Moura was previously convicted of Stang's murder and then acquitted in an automatic retrial. That decision was overturned last year on a technicality, however.

Confessed gunman Rayfran das Neves Sales is serving a 28-year sentence for the crime.

Regivaldo Galvao, the other rancher who prosecutors say helped orchestrate Stang's murder, is scheduled to face trial at the end of this month.

"When it trickles here, it trickles up": An Interview with Gustavo Gutiérrez

Last week, Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez Merino, O.P. was in Lima to receive the R.P. Jorge Dintilhac Medal of Honor from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. The Dintilhac Medal is awarded to people who are outstanding in Christian, civic and human values, as well as those who have made significant contributions to Peru. On April 9th, David Pereda from the university's journal, PuntoEdu, interviewed the father of liberation theology, who is also an emeritus professor in PUCP's theology department. English translation by Rebel Girl.


Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez Merino, O.P. (photo above, 3rd from left) started liberation theology, the first great modern theological trend born outside Europe. It establishes a preferential option for the poor and opens a dialogue with other scientific disciplines. Renowned worldwide, he is emeritus professor in the Theology Department of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. On Tuesday, he received the R.P. Jorge Dintilhac Medal of Honor, which our university gives to individuals who are outstanding for their Christian, civic or human values. At the ceremony, he confirmed his critical streak by saying: "Contrary to the law of gravity, when the economy trickles here, it trickles up. I know that we aren't much for respecting laws, but at least we should respect Newton's."

Did you formulate liberation theology while you were teaching at PUCP?

Yes, but not just that. I also did pastoral work. It was the world of the sixties, a lot was boiling. I was thinking theologically about many facts at that time in Latin America. I was very interested in the theme of poverty within theology: how to respond as Christians to poverty. Then came the Bishops Conference of Medellín, which I worked on. I was on the CELAM team. At Medellin, the issue of poverty was very strong. Everything motivated me to put my ideas in order. My deepest conviction is that theology has its roots in Christian spirituality, the following of Jesus. It is a reflection on being a disciple of Jesus, or how to be one. One of the questions that liberation theology attempts to answer, although it can not do so fully, is how to tell the poor that God loves them. The question is very broad and our response is small, but it is an attempt.

Was this emphasis on the poor something that was missing?

The issue of the poor has been with the Church throughout its existence, but the ways in which the problem was posed in the sixties were distinct: understanding poverty by taking into account that it has human causes, that it is an injustice but not inevitable. Then, reading the Bible that talks about the poor, motivated me. In the 25th chapter of Matthew, Jesus says: "When you gave food to a poor person, you gave it to Me." It is a very clear gospel motivation.

Was it solidarity in face of the selfishness of the market?


Certainly. It is a gospel answer on which theology is working. In the sixties, the Second Vatican Council stirred up the environment a lot. John XXIII, one month before the start, spoke especially of the Church of the poor. We were not starting just from the new situation and understanding about poverty, but also from those prophetic words of John XXIII, who is a key person for liberation theology.

Is it going back to the basics of Christianity?

The great renewals in the history of the Church are always returns to the Gospel. The Conference of Aparecida, 2007, believed globalization to be a fact that must be accepted and assessed, but the way it has been used creates deep asymmetries in certain social sectors.


You mentioned the now famous term "trickling", which is going upward.

It is being said that the country is growing, but how are the poor? We should read the country from that perspective. The poor are human beings. To speak of trickling is like saying "crumbs from the table." Additionally, the country is growing because wealth is increasing among those who already had many possessions. The world of the poor has little diminished. At times the poverty rate decreases because population growth is lower. There have been some improvements, undoubtedly, but we continue to have a huge group of poor people.

Appealing to statistics is tricky?

The statistics, according to the methods, may give results that are not contradictory but different, yes. When a crisis such as the latest one comes along, poverty rises again. It happens with natural disasters. Those who suffer most are the poor. They say: "When it rains, it rains on everyone." But it is not the same if it rains on me under a corrugated metal or a cement roof. In the earthquake in Haiti 200 thousand people died and in Chile, 500 so far. I'm not saying that's nothing, a single one shocks me. But it must be noted that there are different structures. Haiti is the poorest country in the continent. There are more factors, but this is also important -- poverty is still there. John Paul II was very clear about the causes of poverty and its elimination. Benedict XVI too. It is an issue that the Church touches on very clearly at the magisterial level.

Does the poverty in Latin America reflect that the message isn't getting through?

It must be said clearly: according to experts, the most unequal continent in the world is Latin America, but the vast majority of the Latin American population is Christian, Catholic and evangelical. The Christian knows that one must love one's neighbor and preferentially, the poorest. The reality does not seem to correspond to that. This is not to play the Pharisee or cast the first stone, it is simply stating a painful fact.

Gustavo Gutiérrez Merino

Place and date of birth: Lima, June 8, 1928
Achievements: In 2003, he received the Premio Príncipe de Asturias de Comunicación y Humanidades. He is also a Knight in the Legion of Honor of France, a member of the Peruvian Academy of Language, and honorary member of the Peruvian College of Psychologists and an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in the United States. Publications: among others, A Theology of Liberation (1971), The Power of the Poor in History (1979), Las Casas: In Search of the Poor of Jesus Christ (1992).