from issue no. 05 - 2003

Our Bet

The vocation of Latin America is not that of being a piece of North American free trade, but to be open to the world, contributing to the emergence of a multi-polar world. The words are those of the Cardinal of Honduras at the launch of Guzmán Carriquiry’s book

by Cardinal Oscar A. Rodríguez Maradiaga

Mother and daughter at work in the fields of Guamote in Ecuador

Mother and daughter at work in the fields of Guamote in Ecuador

To bet on Latin America! Who would dare do so in times as difficult as those in which we live? How are we to situate this almost unknown land once again in the world context?
Here is the good news coming to us today from a Latin American passionate about the continent of hope: Professor Guzmán Carriquiry Lecour, who has honored me this evening with an invitation to the launch of his new book.
Two years ago, at the ordinary assembly of CELAM, the Episcopal Council of Latin America, celebrated almost ten years after the fourth general conference of the Latin American Episcopate of San Domingo, the possibility of requesting the Holy Father for a fifth conference for the fiftieth anniversary of this important ecclesiastical body was discussed, a conference to take place in 2005. In effect, reality had changed so much in this decade that the need for a clear and sincere updating so as to face confront the new challenges was felt, keeping in mind the perspective of duc in altum presented in the apostolic letter Novo millennio ineunte.
I have no hesitation in presenting this book as an excellent instrumentum laboris for all bishops who fulfil their pastoral obligation and wish to respond with the parresìa of the Church of Jesus to the new signs of the times.
Professor Carriquiry is not only an expert teacher but also an exemplary helmsman since 1972, when he arrived, very young, in the Eternal City to carry out his service on the Papal Council for the laity, full of enthusiasm and love for the Church.
I knew him first through his articles in Vispera and met him personally after the conference in Puebla at a meeting of the laity in San José de Costa Rica. It is a genuine reason of pride for the Church of Latin America that one of its laity – or better, six lay people, including his beloved wife and four children – serve the church in the important department of vitalizing the laity. This is reflected in the fifth chapter of this book, where the Church as a global subject is analyzed. His analysis of Vatican Council II as the last European Council and the first worldwide one is not simply a theoretic study. Every page contains life, love, lived experience. He is not a distant, cold observer, but someone who has personally fought the silent battle for faith, peace and justice. If one had to give the book a subtitle, I would immediately put: on the side of those who love the Church passionately.
Controversial issues such as the ALCA (Area of American Free Trade), in the perspective of the integration of the continent beginning with Mercosur, are treated with frankness and realism: “Latin America cannot continue to allow itself the privileged ostentation, irresponsible and scandalous, of parasitic oligarchic minorities, nor the sheer speculative forms of financial colonization without any real compromise with peoples and with the destiny of the nations” (p.43). A revision of international cooperation in terms of a new culture of solidarity is urgently required.
An “archipelago” model can no longer be considered, one that might occur literally as a complex of small opulent islands in the middle of an ocean of poverty.
We certainly do not want to be satellites nor condemned to ideological anachronism.
The very full and up-to-date bibliography opens fruitful perspectives for the interested researcher also. In fact, Professor, I think that from now on no volunteer sent to Latin America will be able to do without this book! While I reading it I was thinking that I’d get all my seminarians to read it as a set book!
Today the world is richer, but the inequalities at world level have increased in a scandalous fashion and, as the author says, the major social inequalities are in Latin America. It is not enough to measure poverty. The depth of the poverty must be measured. I maintain, yet again, that the weapons of mass destruction have already been in action for many years, and it will not be the current war [in Iraq, ed] to put an end to these weapons. The real weapons of mass destruction are in fact poverty and social injustice.
Concern about Africa and Asia is not common in the analyses usually made in studies of the continent, and I sustain that here it is set in an interesting perspective.
But the chapter “US peace or universal peace” seems to me almost prophetic in the context of the unipolar order created in the absence of a counterweight. The vocation of Latin America is not to be a piece of NAFTA [the Treaty of North American Free Trade, ed], it is instead that of being present in the world, open to the world, contributing to the emergence of a multi-polar world.
The tragedy of 11 September has given an area of New York a name full of anguish: Ground zero, land zero. Why bet on Latin America in times in which it appears to be fairly marginal on the world scene, with worn out models and uncertain horizons? The third millennium is starting in Latin America, it is beginning again from “page zero”. In the words of the author: “It is time to recapitulate, to think and to bet with reason, realism and hope!”
To conclude, I must underline that Professor Carriquiry has done a very beautiful job in following the post-synodal exhortation Ecclesia in America. Throughout the book the United States and Canada are not those “distant neighbors” of one time. Now, as the Holy Father so much wished, we are ever more one America and attempt to respond in a united way to common challenges. As regards, for example, where the Hispanic missionary work in the great nations of the north is concerned.

Italiano Español Français Deutsch Português