Buenos Aires, Argentina (Thursday, Dec 3, 2015, Gaudium Press) The Argentine bishops’ conference issued “a strong call to conversion” to those involved in drug trafficking and dealing, urging them to take advantage of the Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy which begins Dec. 8.
|Marijuana, cocaine, and counterfeit currency seized in Federal Police raids
in Buenos Aires, February 2013. Credit: Ministerio de Seguridad Argentina
“We are especially addressing those who belong to criminal groups, those who look with indifference upon the tragedy their brothers are going through, those who are collaborating by omission or commission in the spread of this scourge,” the bishops of Argentina said.
Their appeal came in their message “No to drug trafficking, yes to the fullness of life,” written during their 110th Plenary Assembly in early November.
The Argentine bishops also called for efforts to combat the plague of drug trafficking in their country. They warned that its presence and spread entails the complicity of power “in its various forms.” The prelates warned of “the gravity of the situation our country is facing on this issue” and reminded all of society of “the need for urgent conversion.”
This transformation, they explained, “can’t be understood from just one aspect” since “any response on just one level will turn out to be just as inefficient as it is useless.”
The prelates emphasized that drug trafficking is “a business of global dimensions, that extends its network into governments, businesses and multiple sectors of society.”
“The government needs to deploy an organized force to neutralize the enormous damage it causes” they pointed out. They lamented that drug trafficking is “deeply rooted in our country.”
The bishops’ conference connected drug trafficking with the “global culture of consumerism” which “creates unsatisfied desires and imposes on our countries a market with an inadequate scale of values.”
This consumerist culture, they said, “is constantly sending out the false notion that without having certain things you can’t be happy.”
The bishops connected this to the “globalization of indifference,” an often-used phrase of Pope Francis. They said this phenomenon “creates an individualistic culture based on consumption which creates a favorable framework for the expansion of drug trafficking networks.”
“Drug trafficking is conducted in the most brutal spirit of capitalism and the idolatry of money: it’s inseparable from them,” they reiterated.
Argentina is seeing a rise in the manufacture and use of a drug called “paco,” a highly addictive cocaine-based drug that is smoked like crack.
The bishops referred to “the growing number of people who make ‘paco’ or other very harmful preparations at home.” They lamented that these small-scale manufacturers then act “without any scruples to the outrageous point of sending out their own children or grandchildren to sell drugs.”
“This reality offends against the Fifth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’!” they warned. At the same time, they said drug dealers are more morally culpable than “the poor kid who’s finally used to deliver the drugs.”
One response to drugs is to have the “best possible security forces.” But the Argentine bishops emphasized the most appropriate response is “a profound cultural transformation.”
“Drug trafficking ensures the success of the person who with little effort gains a lot and who’s outside the law,” they stated. This discourages those who try to succeed through honest work.
The bishops called on governors, legislators and members of the judiciary to take responsibility for these situations. They called for strong and appropriate policies to eliminate drug trafficking and sales.
They called upon “all the People of God and so many people of good will” to fight against drug trafficking. They also called for a commitment to care for those who are suffering from drug use “directly or indirectly.”
“The Church wants to be close to families who are hurting because some of their members are addicted to drugs,” they added.