The Roman Catholic bishops of El Salvador traveled to Rome this week to meet with Pope Benedict. The pope spoke to the bishops about conditions affecting the country:
Benedict XVI remarked on the fact that poverty forces many people to emigrate "in search of better living conditions, often bringing negative consequences to the stability of marriage and the family." He also recognized the prelates' efforts "to promote reconciliation and peace in the country and so overcome the painful events of the past."
Referring to violence, which "is considered as your country's most serious problem," the Pope acknowledged that the bishops "recognize that its increase is the direct consequence of other deeper social scourges such as poverty, a lack of education, the progressive loss of those values which have always forged the Salvadorian soul, and the break-up of families. The truth is that the family is a vital asset for the Church and for society, as well as being a basic factor in constructing peace."
"Hence," he continued, "you feel the need to revitalize and reinforce adequate and effective pastoral care among families in all your dioceses, offering young people a solid spiritual and emotional formation that may help them discover the beauty of God's plan for human love, and enable them coherently to experience the authentic values of marriage and the family such as tenderness, mutual respect, self-control, total dedication and constant fidelity."
Benedict XVI said that in order to tackle poverty, it is important "to improve infrastructures and economic conditions in order to enable everyone to enjoy a dignified life. Yet it must not be forgotten that man is not just a product of the material and social conditions in which he lives. [...] Man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope."