AMERICA/BOLIVIA - In Latin America, the drug trade and the indigenous reality question the Church

Cochabamba (Agenzia Fides) - "In Latin America, the indigenous reality questions the Church" is the title of the interview to His Exc. Mgr. Marc Stenger, Bishop of Troyes, in France, a member of the Episcopal Commission for Universal Mission of the Church, who recently carried out a trip to Bolivia and Chile, since he is in charge of Latin America and the Caribbean region. The interview, published on the website of the French Episcopal Conference, has been reported to Fides.
The trip is part of the regular meetings held every two years by representatives of the French Episcopal Conference with representatives of the French missionaries (diocesan priests, men and women religious, laity) who work in almost all Latin American countries.
"This year's meeting was held in Cochabamba (Bolivia) – Mgr. Stenger said in the interview - where father Luc Lalire, Secretary of the Latin American section at the National Service of the Universal Mission of the Church, and I met with the French delegates. We also had some meetings with the Bishop Emeritus of Potosi, Mgr. Walter Perez, and also with the Archbishop, Mgr. Tito Solari. The current Bishop of Potosi, Mgr.Ricardo Ernesto Centellas Guzman, had been asked to talk about the reality of the Church in Bolivia. During my stay in Chile I also had contact with the Archbishop of Santiago, His Exc. Mgr. Ricardo Ezzati, President of the Episcopal Conference of Chile."
About the impressions from this experience, Mgr. Stenger points out that throughout the continent the drug problem dominates. "This has a huge impact on the economic and social life. This very strong reality implies pastoral questions. The Church has specific actions to accompany drug victims, but I think all of us are unprepared for this phenomenon that has assumed considerable proportions. I have seen it in Chile, where I went to see the priests of Antofagasta and then in Santiago. In particular, I spent time with Father Gerard Ouisse, pastor of Legua, a suburb of Santiago, which is the center of drug trafficking, with all that that means in acts of violence. Father Ouisse boldly denounced this reality, he was for some time under police protection, he is a person who refuses to be silent before this plague on society and morality."
Another issue particularly important for a number of Latin-American countries is tied to the indigenous realities. "In countries where this reality is very much present - says the Bishop - it raises questions to the local church, particularly on inculturation. The Church, moreover, is not always able to find a way to accompany this particular population and offer them the Gospel. "
Finally Mgr. Stenger points out three things to consider as part of the universal mission: "The drug trade is a sign of the extreme poverty of the population. A cancer like this can only extend on the fragile bodies. This should remind us that most of the population lives in poverty. I have now discovered the indigenous reality. The problem of all these countries is the acceptance of these indigenous cultures. In Bolivia, this coexistence has not always been easy. The indigenous have often been oppressed people. Today social integration is still difficult. The bishops have agreed to promote a Continental Mission, with the desire to build a Church more open to the world and the most disadvantaged groups of society." (CE) (Agenzia Fides 24/2/2012)

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