Fight Against Corruption Is a Key to Lifting Nicaragua, Says Pope

Receives Credentials of New Ambassador of Managua to the Holy See

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 14, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II warned against turning pockets of "extreme poverty" in Nicaragua into "endemic" destitution, as he stressed the importance of the struggle against corruption.



On Saturday, when receiving the letters of credence of Armando Luna Silva, Nicaragua's new ambassador to the Holy See, the Pope expressed his concern about the state of this Central American country.

Addressing the ambassador in Spanish, the Pope said that "situations of extreme poverty" are "the first injustice" which affects many Nicaraguans.

"Their elimination must represent a priority for all, both in the national as well as the international realm," he said.

The Holy Father encouraged the government to address "that evil that cannot be considered endemic, but the result of a series of factors which must be addressed with determination and enthusiasm, so that the quality of life of Nicaraguans will really improve."

"Such efforts united to those of the international community, whose aid must be well administered with a transparent, honest and effective management, are indispensable assumptions to build a peaceful, just and solidaristic society, which really responds to the yearnings of Nicaraguans and is in consonance with its traditions," the Pope said.

Another "important factor in this struggle against poverty is the eradication of corruption, which undermines the just social and political development of so many peoples," he said.

"Of great help to build a more just and fraternal society will be the guidelines of Catholic social doctrine and the moral teachings of the Church, values worthy of being taken into account by persons working in the service of the nation," said the Pope, who has visited the country twice.

"One cannot move toward real social peace without an order where individuals' freedoms are ever more solid and where, at the same time, the confidence of citizens in public institutions is stimulated, for a more active collaboration and responsible participation of all for the common good," he said.

The Holy Father vouched for the support of bishops, priests and religious of Nicaragua, "in the specific fields of their activity, so that each one will feel more intensely the responsibility to improve the conditions of life for all, as the integral service of man also forms part of the ecclesial mission."

"The local Church tries to foster reconciliation and to favor the development of a more democratic society, offering its collaboration so that values such as justice and solidarity, respect for the law and love of truth will always be present in the life of Nicaraguans," the Holy Father concluded.

According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, 89% of Nicaragua's more than 5 million inhabitants are Catholic. There is only one priest for every 12,145 inhabitants.