AMERICA/BOLIVIA - In a joint Pastoral Letter leaders of Christian Churches in Bolivia appeal to all sectors of society, institutions and government to put aside personal interests and defend life above all else

Saturday, 4 June 2005

La Paz (Fides Service) - In answer to a request from the President of Bolivia Carlos Mesa for the Catholic Church and the other Christian denominations in the country to promote national dialogue in order to overcome the situation of social tension and crisis, the Christian leaders issued a joint pastoral letter addressed to all sectors of society "Come to an agreement!" The President for his part on June 1 at 11pm with Supreme Decree number 28195 officially convoked Constituent Assembly elections on 16 October followed by a referendum for autonomous regions. The Ecumenical Pastoral Letter issued on 2 June was signed by representatives of the local Catholic Church, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Evangelical and Pentecostal communities and addressed to ‘public opinion, government authorities, social and civic movements and the Christians of Bolivia’. A copy of the letter was sent to Fides by Moises Morales secretary of the Bishops’ Commission for Dialogue.
The letter has 3 subtitles which illustrate the profound structural crisis in Bolivia: “the structural roots of the present situation”, “one step more than obeying orders” and “protect life more than anything!”. The representatives of the Churches admit with humble awareness that they have not always done enough to bear convincing witness to the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of justice, equality and love. United in faith in Christ they say:
“We have been plunged once again into a national crisis there is a danger that lives may be lost and that prospects for building a society of equity and participation in which no one is excluded may disappear or have already been annihilated”. They say that statements which encourage internal disagreement, silence or absence of those with responsibility are symptoms of a profound structural crises which has its origin in history. They affirm that “authoritarianism, resignation, lack of authentic channels of expression and participation, corruption which prospers in all kinds of political and social organisation are aggravating factors”.
Nevertheless the people are living a conjuncture which is decisive for the country and the Church representatives therefore denounce with great courage that great expectations for a better future for the country risk being disappointed because of the irresponsibility of several subjects: state powers in competition, certain irresponsible social and political leaders, false regional antagonism, lack of correct information. Therefore “the conditions for a radical transformation of Bolivian society have not been reached and those who claim the opposite are ready to lead the people least defended to make useless sacrifices”.
Recalling their vocation to serve the people of Bolivia the religious representatives call on all the parties involved to sustain the democratic process and offer full support to the realisation of the Constituent Assembly which, at this time, can be the best space for re-organising society; to promote devolution and effective autonomy with solidarity; to assume ethic values, transparency and fidelity to promises in order to rebuild trust in the institutions and put aside particular interests to protect the common good. (RZ) (Agenzia Fides 4/6/2005, righe 40, parole 557).