Pope Benedict XVI expressed concern over Costa Rica’s poverty recently when the new Costa Rican Ambassador to the Vatican, Luis París, presented his credentials.
The Pope said he is worried about an increase in poverty in Costa Rica and asked the government to take “urgent means that take into account individuals, families and
society,” adding that domestic violence, a lack of public safety and migration from neighboring countries are products of poverty that concern him and the Catholic Church, the daily La Nación reported.
President Oscar Arias disagreed with the Pope that poverty has increased and said it has remained more or less the same since 1994.
However, he agreed that Costa Ricans “can’t continue being witnesses to the worst form of violence: poverty, which snatches food away from families, jobs away from single mothers and education away from our youth,” according to a statement from Casa Presidencial.
Arias pointed to his administration’s plans to reduce poverty levels from 20% to 16% of the population by 2010 and combat school dropout through the scholarship program Avancemos (Let’s Get Ahead).
He also applauded the Pope’s view of poverty as a problem that cannot be solved without an examination of the country’s values.
“Economic growth and a strengthening of our institutions will bring the country little benefit if as individuals we are not generous and do not act in solidarity,” he said.
The Pope met with Arias last year at the Vatican, where the President urged the spiritual leader to change the Church’s stance on birth control (TT, June, 23, 2006).