AMERICA/BOLIVIA - “Poverty is still a major problem in our country” say Catholic Bishops of Bolivia: “the majority of the population experiences poverty which in many cases is extreme”.

Thursday, 6 May 2004

Cochabamba (Fides Service) - A message to denounce the suffering afflicting the people of Bolivia but at the same time to restore hope to a nation on the brink of desperation seeing no sign of a better future: this was the contents of a Message titled “Do not fear! The Lord is truly Risen!” issued by the Catholic Bishops of Bolivia at the end of their 78th General Assembly, held recently in Cochabamba. The Bishops denounce a lacerating and conflicting situation which is ever worse because of a widespread crisis which has dragged on for years aggravated by attitudes in some political and business sectors and by certain media and extremist groups which threaten peaceful co-existence and push towards violent confrontation.
The Bishops’ Message recalls that poverty is still a major problem experienced by the majority of people and which in many cases is extreme. “The situation of poverty and economic crises have been aggravated by, among other things, by violence and social conflict, exploited by various sectors for their own interests which have lost sight of the search for the common good”. “We cannot allow ourselves to be dragged down by pessimism - the Bishops exhort - indeed we must spread the realisation that problems can be solved peacefully because only a man of peace respects life. The Lord’s peace which is not a precarious treaty or balance between opposing powers, but fullness of life and sharing of goods among brothers, which opens our hearts to listen to the Word of God, urges us to say: No to death! Yes to Life!”.
The Bishops begin and end their Message with a pressing call not to fear, but to be certain that the Lord is Risen!: “A difficult and arduous path awaits us! We need not fear the Lord is truly Risen and he is in our midst!”.
The Message also touches the them of vocations which was the main topic of the Bishops’ Assembly: in fact all Christians have a responsibility to encourage and support vocations to the priesthood, the Bishops have at heart the formation of candidates to the priesthood. The Bolivian Bishops say the 48th International Eucharistic Congress which will take place in October at Guadalajara (Mexico), will be an opportunity to strengthen faith in the Eucharist and to promote more active participation in Sunday Mass. (R.Z.) (Agenzia Fides 4/5/2004; Righe 33; Parole 407)