The auxiliary bishop of Santiago del Estero in Argentina, Enrique Martínez Ossola, recently spoke about the “difficult times” the country is going through, the current political situation, and the problems of drug trafficking and addiction in an interview with the local television program “Libertad de Opinión.”
“Drugs kill and poison the family,” the prelate said, noting that “there is no effective response from the state” and the public health system “is overwhelmed.”
“Drug trafficking,” he pointed out, “moves a lot of money, has a lot of influence and gets into government structures, corrupting police officers, corrupting authorities.”
He also referred to the “captive market” of drug trafficking, a situation that “creates a spiral of violence, unheard of robberies, losing one’s life over a cellphone,” because the money “ensures a [fix] for a couple of days.”
Faced with this scourge, he recalled the words of St. Peter: “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk [Acts 3:6–7].”Martínez then encouraged faith, solidarity, and respect: “There are tough neighborhoods, there are some scourges that go out and do their mischief, but there are many decent people who live in those poor neighborhoods, who hold onto values of solidarity, respect, and dignity.”
The effects of drugs lead to “aberrant” behavior, the prelate stated, and “the only way to confront it is in faith, acting on the commitment that we Christians must have, and it’s the call of Pope Francis to be protagonists, to not [look on at a safe distance], as he says” and to face the situation with “your feet in the mud.”He also referred to the economic instability and uncertainty, a situation that suggests that the only way out is to get on a plane and leave the country.
“We are also dissolving the family nucleus. There are orphaned children with living parents, because the father or mother doesn’t have time, because of work, because of this, because of that… and we see the child as a nuisance, as a burden, and not as a gift from God,” Martínez commented.
In the context of the presidential election campaign in Argentina, the prelate clarified that the solutions to the problems “do not depend only on leaders with charisma but on men with maturity, with depth, who dedicate their lives to the service of the community.”
“We see rich politicians in a poor society, and that cannot be,” he said.
“There are people who make a living from politics. Some may claim that they have a title, but that they have never exercised it” or just when they got started, “because they became entrenched in government jobs,” he observed.
Next, the prelate agreed with the presidential candidate for the political coalition La Libertad Avanza (Liberty Advances), Javier Milei, when referring to “the caste.”
“Actually Milei, when he talks about ‘caste,’ is right. There is a political caste that has all the rights. They are doing well, they have a house, food, income, possibilities for advancement, but there’s inequality,” he lamented. “Politics is the government of public affairs, but the sovereign has to be the people.”
“We need a more participatory democracy, where we all commit to the search for the common good,” Martínez commented.
Therefore, addressing the candidates, he insisted: “Always aspire to serve the people, don’t forget where you come from.”
He asked the leaders “to listen to the voice of the people, to be faithful to the people who have anointed you with power. The power is not yours, it’s the people’s.”
Finally, he asked citizens to be responsible and honest in the fulfillment of their duties and to always consider “those who suffer, those who are in need, those who are worse off than us,” as well as having “a united and solidary heart” and above all “that we all bend the knee only before God and that we be free.”
Milei, who won the most votes in the recent presidential primary, is a controversial figure from a Catholic point of view in Argentina as his libertarian positions variously support or go against Catholic values.