Foundation's Aid Is Just a Start, Say Prelates

Call on Catholics to Show Church's Love for Poor

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The work of the Populorum Progressio Foundation is just a "drop in the ocean" compared to the needs of poor populations in Latin America, says the archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico.



Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez spoke with ZENIT about the foundation's work as the group's annual meeting ended today in Rome.

"This foundation is like a drop of water in the desert because in the face of such a great need it can only do a small part. The need is great and this is a gesture that must be imitated," Cardinal Sandoval Iñiguez said.

The foundation's administrative council approved a total of $1,884,000 in aid in the form of 204 micro-projects for communities, small municipalities and cooperatives.

"If more people would give money to the foundation, it would be channeled through aid initiatives oriented toward self-development," said the 74-year-old cardinal, who will host next year's meeting in his home Archdiocese of Guadalajara.

"The foundation's business is to give, not to lend; to thus support self-management projects of housing improvement, drinking water, health and construction," he added.

From 1992 until last year, the foundation had financed more than 2,000 projects with an estimated cost of more than $20 million.

"It is a drop in the desert," Cardinal Sandoval Iñiguez reiterated, "and it is certainly not the solution; but it is a signal to the bishops, priests, religious and all Catholics to do their part. It is an example."

Educating the indigenous

The cardinal spoke of the priority of education for native Latin Americans so they "can join present-day civilization without losing their own culture."

"How do we do this?" he asked. "By trusting in the Church. The Church can approach these people in such a way that they won't lose their culture and won't isolate themselves. It is an issue of education, but it is also a problem of poverty and health."

Archbishop Edmundo Abastoflor Montero of La Paz, Bolivia, also spoke with ZENIT about the foundation's importance, "especially in the field of education and poverty relief."

The prelate said the Church has put together the most complete library on the indigenous cultures in Bolivia.

This material is useful in researching "how to present the Gospel in a respectful and serious way to the different cultural worlds formed by our various indigenous groups," he explained.

Archbishop Abastoflor Montero continued: "We seek a more profound knowledge of our indigenous peoples' way of thinking and their view of reality so that we can open a dialogue with them.

"This dialogue proposes that the Gospel, the Word of God, is not against their culture but, on the contrary, values all that is positive within it. We also seek to understand those aspects that have not been sufficiently studied."

The 63-year-old prelate explained the role of the Church in educating Bolivians.

"The Church in Bolivia has around 1,500 educational centers; which, considering the Bolivian population, is a considerable number," he said. "They are not private schools, but are part of an agreement with the government in which the government covers the cost and the Church guarantees a quality of education that is very appreciated in the country."