ACN News: Tuesday 8th of May 2012 – BOLIVIA
High res image is available on request
Bolivia: Tense relationship between Church and government – Church wants to strengthen pastoral care
By Reinhard Backes
Declaring, “Cultivation and logging must cease,” the Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia has condemned the widespread cultivation of coca and the destruction of rain forests. The government of this South American country is set to approve the clear-cutting of further forests. Additionally, a highway linking eastern Bolivia with Western Brazil is planned to run through the heart of a nature reserve. This would not only destroy important resources but also promote the spread of coca, Archbishop Sergio Alfredo Gualberti, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Santa Cruz, told staff members of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
(On the right: Rafael D’Aqui, the Project officer for the department Latin America I of Aid to the Church in Need in conversation with
Auxiliary Bishop Braulio Sáez García, Coadjutor-Archbishop Sergio Alfredo Gualberti Calandrina and Auxiliary Bishop Stanislaw
Dowlaszewicz Billman in the Archdiocese Santa Cruz de la Sierra)
The planned road would slash through the heart of the Isiboro Secure National Park, a region that has been officially set aside for indigenous peoples. Critics of the project fear an increase in illegal logging and further environmental destruction due to new settlement along the planned route. Because of this, the Bishops’ Conference has drafted a pastoral letter on environmental protection, justice and development, entitled, “The universe, a gift of God for life”.
In the Andean nations, the cultivation of coca is restricted by law, as the leaves can also be processed into cocaine. For some years now, however, President Evo Morales, who was previously one of the main leaders of the coca farmers, and who was re-elected in December 2009, has been advocating allowing coca farmers to further expand their cultivation. His government has repeatedly harshly rejected criticism from abroad as well as from the Church. The relationship between the Church and the government was considered tense even before this. A constitutional amendment providing for the strict separation of church and state also contributed to this adversarial relationship.
In the Catholic Church, the political changes have given rise to a shift in perspective. For the episcopate, says Archbishop Gualberti, the mission of propagating the Faith takes priority. The pastoral work in the parishes is to be strengthened and the training of lay catechists, religious and seminarians is to be actively promoted. Although over three quarters of Bolivia’s 10 million inhabitants are nominally Catholic, the practice of the Faith has declined among many groups.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 162 languages and 48 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material.
For more information or to make a donation to help the work of Aid to the Church in Need, please contact the Australian office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 6245 Blacktown DC NSW 2148.
On Line donations can be made at www.aidtochurch.org
Responses are not allowed!
DONATE NOW - HOW TO DONATE | SUPPORT | THE MIRROR | BEQUESTS | MASS OFFERINGS | CONTACT
Ph/Fax (02) 9679-1929 e-mail: email@example.com web: www.aidtochurch.org