Guatemala: bishops say selfish policies lead to high hurricane death toll

 The high death toll caused by Hurricane Stan was partly due to selfish economic and social policies, the Guatemalan Bishops said on Friday. In their statement, United in Solidarity, they said: "Guatemala lives in grief and suffering, thousands of ordinary men, women and children have been affected by Hurricane Stan and damage to the country's production system makes the situation of emergency even worse". The Bishops praised acts of heroism by people who went searching for missing brothers and sisters in need: "We saw the solidarity of individuals, families, groups committed to helping those in need. Many parishes are helping the homeless. The generosity of our people shines above all at times like these". They thanked the people and encourage them to continue this work of solidarity and to be united to save human lives and bring the necessary aid. They encouraged Catholics to provide besides material assistance, also courage and hope and awareness that help arrives from other countries, but it comes first of all from God and with his help Guatemala will survive this tragedy: "We must encourage people and build bonds of brotherhood, the mark of the disciples of Jesus" . The Bishops stressed the need to create more jobs, to renew conversion and consolidate faith in the ability to look to the future with confidence: "The private sector and public institutions must help to rebuild life in all forms to construct a society after the heart of God". Hurricane Stan, they said, left destruction and death and revealed the failings of the country's "selfish economic and social policies. We must all examine our conscience to see if our action is in keeping with the commandment to love. What importance have we given to meeting the urgent needs of the poor?" At the end of the statement the Bishops expressed gratitude for messages of solidarity from Pope Benedict XVI and from other Bishops' Conferences. They also praised efforts made by the media, state authorities and other institutions to assist the victims. Source: Fides