AMERICA/ARGENTINA – “The most excruciating poverty coexists with the most inconceivable wealth”: Social Week 2021

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Buenos Aires – Social Week 2021 has ended in Argentina, an event that traditionally involves the main protagonists of the country’s business world along with the realities of the Catholic world, particularly involved in the social sphere. From Monday, July 12 to Thursday, July 15, forums and conferences took place virtually, with broad participation. The topics analyzed in these conferences were: food, economy and work, connectivity and education, commitment and faith. The final document reflects the period of health emergency that we are experiencing. In the introduction, the participants acknowledge that the Covid-19 pandemic does not stop, new strains and variants appear, and it will take a long time for vaccination on a global scale to bring us back to normality. The pandemic has hit hard in all sectors: health, social, economic, educational, family, especially the most vulnerable population. Inequality even manifests itself in the distribution of vaccines. “The most excruciating poverty coexists with the most inconceivable wealth. And this is combined with the mistreatment of the land”, reads the text sent to Fides. In their message, the Bishops underline that there is a large segment of the population with unsatisfied basic needs, while food accessible to all is “a social urgency that must hit us hard”. With regard to food production, entrepreneurs and producers agreed that the participation of the State in covering basic needs, education for employment and the creation of opportunities for integration in the world is necessary to overcome the crisis. To create an industrialized country that produces and creates employment, combining it with state policies, tax reform, attention to the environment and a profound federal perspective are essential. “We were moved to hear insistently that creating work is the only way to move forward, changing the subsidy paradigm with the labor paradigm”, said the members of the Social Pastoral. They therefore asked to return to the dignity of work, through adequate legislation that enables development, and to evaluate and promote strategies for a global approach to the popular economy. The participants believe that a reformulation of the economy and a rethinking of politics is necessary to provide concrete answers and solutions. In this regard, the intervention of the Bishop of Lomas de Zamora and president of the Episcopal Commission for social pastoral care , Mgr. Jorge Lugones SJ, who presented the final reflection of the panel on “Economic reactivation, hope and challenge” was highly regarded. “To reform the economy, it is necessary to reform politics”, underlined the Bishop. “Young people question us about the need for a collective dream”, and social inclusion is incompatible with the excessive concentration of wealth and power. Economic reactivation must be a hope and a challenge, especially for the structural problems that lead to hunger for 60 per cent of children.
Another important point was the identification of a new cause of exclusion in internet access, today an indispensable tool for accessing educational, health and family gathering content. Connectivity is a right, so it is essential to increase access opportunities, especially in Argentina, which has a very diverse demographic. In order to achieve a universal basic offer of information and communication technologies for all sectors, especially the most vulnerable, joint work between the State and private individuals is essential, to generate policies in the short and medium term, simplifying bureaucratic obstacles. “We must avoid that social gap is also a digital gap”, they said.
Finally, they urged not to give up all the necessary efforts to remove from society “hatreds that depersonalize us, lies and false news that prevent a healthy debate, ideological distancing and continuous accusations that generate only enmity, disqualification, mediocrity. Only in this way can we build a fraternity to be better”.