The Permanent Commission of the Argentine Episcopal Conference called on Thursday for a gesture of greatness from the government and the farmers to help put an end to the three month long conflict which is rapidly becoming into a serious confrontation and threatens social peace.
The committee presided by Cardinal Primate of Argentina Jorge Bergoglio also requested President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to urgently convene a "transparent dialogue". In the document following the meeting the prelates also called on farmers "to review their claims" because "it's not in the streets or routes where we'll find a solution to the problem, no matter how fair the claims are". The document which is titled precisely "The Nation requests gestures of greatness" also warns that the persistence of the conflict is also a symbol of institutional weakness". However Cardinal Bergoglio discarded any mediation from the Church arguing that "at no moment did we mention the word mediation; mediation is something you request, not something you offer". Nevertheless this is the first time the Episcopate Committee holds an extraordinary meeting since 2001/02 when the Argentine crisis that ousted several presidents, melted the economy, triggered a massive default and over half the population was plunged below the poverty line. "The situation is extremely delicate", underlined the Cardinal Primate of Argentina. "We want fully functioning institutions and that the government convenes the dialogue. Strength comes not from winning but rather from finding the paths that lead to overcome the conflict". The day before and in an interview with the Italian press, Cardinal Bergoglio called for "a statesman-like gesture" from President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in order to put an end to the ongoing conflict with the rural sector. Bergoglio made his comments to the press in Rome, where the Argentine president had been attending a UN conference on food security. In comments on a radio interview in Buenos Aires Archbishop Mario Maulión, a member of the Episcopal Conference warned that "radical positions have done nothing to favor the common good or social peace".