Aparecida 76 – Democracy and Social Justice

International financial institutions often place conditions on aid or loans, including “structural adjustments” that at times demand the privatization of public services, the removal of subsidies for basic needs, as well as other conditions that weaken the states’ role in providing for basic needs and assuring human rights.

The bishops do not see state intervention as an evil, but as important for the implementation of social justice in their countries. Therefore, many have seen the “structural adjustments” as impediments to justice.

In paragraph 76, they note that

After a period in which States apparatus were weakened by the application of structural adjustments in the economy proposed by international financial agencies, currently there is a notable effort by States to enact and implement public policies in areas of health, education, food security, social security, access to land and housing, effective improvement of the economy to create jobs and laws encouraging community support organizations.

The bishops support public policies in areas that are essential for a just livelihood for the poor – including health, education, social security, and access to land. They also support efforts that affect the creation of jobs as well as “laws encouraging community support organizations.” The Spanish text reads “leyes que favorecen las organizaciones solidarias” which, I think, would better be translated as “law that promote/favor organizations that work together in solidarity.” I believe this would therefore include groups like labor unions, organizations of women, human rights groups.

This paragraph ends with a reference to paragraph 56 of Ecclesia en America (The Church in America), which includes a list of social sins. This document was Pope John Paul II’s 1999 exhortation after the Synod of the Church in the Americas.

Again they insist that democracy must include respect for values, such as social justice:

All this indicates that there cannot be true and stable democracy without social justice, without real separation of powers, and unless the rule of law is upheld.

Note the insistence on the separation of powers and the rule of law.

Here is an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

About John Donaghy

Permanent deacon, ordained in the Catholic diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, in 2016. Missionary in Honduras since June 2007, living and working in the parish of Dulce Nombre de María.
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