The president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops has challenged his colleagues to examine closely American governmental and business policies that "affect and aggravate the scandalous conditions in Latin America."
At the opening session of the bishops' semiannual meeting at the Palmer House here, Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco raised a series of "pointed" questions about the implications for the American church of the Third Conference of Latin American Bishops during February in Puebla, Mexico.
Specifically, he asked:
"Should Pueba serve as a model for a similar conference by the American bishops?"
"What can we do and what should we do in regard to the policies of our own government which affect and aggravate the scandalous conditions in Latin America?"
"What can we do and what should we do in regard to the policies of some American-based transnational corporations which also aggravate the scandalous conditions in Latin America?"
"What can we do to alleviate the problems of the undocumented aliens which are partially due to the failures of local Latin American governments to provide for their own citizens?"
Quinn did not spell out answers. He did, however, say the least American Catholic leaders can do is to participate "in the public debate about U.S. policies and practice toward developing nations and what responsible stewardship means for the church in the matter of its corporate investments."
At Puebla, the Latin American bishops declared that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening in their countries, and called on the church to affirm its "preferential but not exclusive love for the poor."
In his opening address Quinn also reaffirmed the church's opposition to abortion and criticized test tube fertilization.
Quinn said that abortion "and to some degree the laboratory production of human life, poison the psychological wellspring of reverence for the sovereignty of the human person."