Peruvian bishops: Seek a way out of the crisis, recover hope
By Vatican News staff reporter
Faced with “alarming levels of political, social, economic and moral decomposition” in Peru, as well as “the distrust of a large percentage of the population, the loss of credibility and good governance”, the bishops of Peru, in the context of their 123rd Plenary Assembly, have spoken out about the current political crisis in this South American country.
The bishops’ statement was read at a press conference on Thursday, 18 August, at the headquarters of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference (CEP). The conference was chaired by CEP President, Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos of Trujillo, who also serves as President of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM). The Archbishop was accompanied by the executive members of the CEP, representing the 56 bishops of Peru.
A moment of profound social and political crisis
During the reading of the Peruvian Bishops’ statement, Archbishop Cabrejos pointed out that “there is no doubt that we are in a moment of profound social and political crisis, which manifests itself in an internal struggle between the Executive and Legislative powers, seriously damaging democracy and generating greater division and conflict, which leads to a serious confrontation between Peruvians and can lead to uncontrollable levels of violence.”
The President of the CEP also lamented corruption in the country, saying, “It is shameful and disappointing that Peru is one of the four countries with the highest corruption perception index in Latin America, according to the Latinobarómetro report in 2021.”
Crisis affects fundamental aspects of life
This moral and ethical crisis, said Archbishop Cabrejos, is directly related to acts of corruption in the upper echelons of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as in other state bodies and sectors of civil society. Undoubtedly, he continued, “corruption is a cancer that infects everything,” as Pope Francis said during his visit to Peru in 2018. The Archbishop also noted the impact of corruption on the high rate of poverty, which in 2022 will reach 27.5% of the Peruvian population.
“This widespread crisis,” Peru’s bishops maintain, “affects fundamental aspects of Peruvian life such as food, education and interculturality, higher levels of underemployment, insecurity, and unemployment; and in regional and local governments this decomposition is also spreading.”
Promoting integral human development
Faced with this situation, the Peruvian bishops believe that “it is time to work together as Peruvian society and move towards a project for a country with an authentic commitment to the integral human development of all Peruvians.”
To achieve this, the bishops say, it is necessary to defend democratic institutions and for those in power to respect the governed as true citizens, giving them an account of their administration. For this reason, “citizens do not deserve to see the spectacles of confrontation in and between the public authorities, especially the executive and the legislative [powers], since permanent confrontation deepens their delegitimization and citizens no longer feel represented by them.”
Returning to the path of dialogue and the common good
Similarly, Archbishop Cabrejos pointed out that “it is also necessary to orient ourselves towards the common good, overcoming a culture of patronage where the public good is not distinguished from the private good, or where the public goods are considered as one’s own.”
In this sense, he said, it is important to affirm that “responsible, respectful and binding democratic dialogue is the only way to find a creative, clear, decisive, and viable way out of the crisis based on firm consensus.” And, he continued, there is an urgent need to seek and establish effective channels of coordination and dialogue between the Executive, Legislative, Judicial powers, and Civil Society, especially the youth, in order to guarantee governance and the common good.
Prioritizing political reform and restoring credibility
Finally, the Peruvian bishops note that “the social consensus calls for a political transition that urgently seeks a way out of the current deep crisis, prioritizing the necessary ongoing political reform to recover credibility, trust, and hope.”
Therefore, the country’s pastors call on “all sectors of civil society to seek through democratic channels the re-establishment of good governance and peace in our country, rejecting violence as a means of conflict resolution.”
They also call on “the highest authorities of the country to respect freedom of the press, which is one of the pillars of democracy.” Finally, Peru's bishops call on the media “to report and comment truthfully, honestly, and respectfully.”