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SYNOD-AMERICAS (UPDATED) Oct-26-2006 (400 words) With photo. xxxi

Bishops from Americas discuss threats to life, U.S. border fence

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The breakdown of families and threats to human life from abortion to the death penalty are challenges Catholics in the Americas must confront, said a group of bishops meeting at the Vatican.

The council of bishops charged with monitoring and promoting follow-up to the 1997 Synod of Bishops for America and to Pope John Paul II's 1999 post-synodal document, "The Church in America," met at the Vatican in early October.

In addition to denouncing threats to human life, council members -- from North and South America as well as from the Vatican -- also offered a harsh assessment of plans to construct a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border.

On Oct. 23, Congress sent the bill authorizing construction of 700 miles of fencing to President George W. Bush, who signed it Oct. 26.

"The wall along the United States-Mexico border will not resolve the problem of the migratory flux between the two countries and will not help establish a coordinated and humanitarian migration policy," the bishops said.

The Oct. 21 statement about the council meeting expressed concern about attempts to introduce or expand access to legalized abortion in many countries.

And, it said, public debate about abortion "unfortunately has caused a polarization among Catholics" in the countries.

The poor and weakest members of society are the first victims of the growing "culture of death," the bishops said. They are threatened not only by abortion, but also by euthanasia and by the death penalty.

"The social and ecclesial situation on the continent shows signs of hope, but also of concern," the bishops said. Throughout the 1997 synod, many bishops referred to North and South America as one continent.

Some countries are facing a political crisis where democratic structures are threatened by "demagogic" forms of government, "often of a neo-Marxist stripe," which manipulate the poor and their desire for economic development, the bishops said.

In Central and South America, they said, serious poverty continues to mark the lives of millions of people, and many countries are suffering violence connected to drug and weapons trafficking.

Looking at good news from the Western Hemisphere, the bishops pointed particularly to an increase in the number of diocesan priests since 1978 and in the number of young men entering the seminary in North and South America.


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