Guatemala City (Agenzia Fides) - The situation of migrants and the new State regulations that put at risk the reception centers run by the Church, the problems highlighted by the pandemic, social and political deterioration, violence and corruption: are some of the issues addressed by the Bishops of Guatemala in recent days.
"The realities we experience remind us of our vocation as Pastors and challenge us to work in search of new paths," states the message that has just been published at the end of the Annual General Assembly of the Guatemalan Bishops' Conference, which took place from January 23 to 27, to analyze the country's social and pastoral situation and elect a new Presidency.
First, the bishops cite "the harsh reality of migrants," which has led to Church facilities and spaces being put at their disposal to offer welcome and comfort to thousands of people. Now, the new state regulation on hotel registration raises some concern. The bishops believe that "Migrant Houses must continue to be a service of charity, respectful and free, while the strict application of regulations will prevent this and force its closure."
The consequences of the pandemic have manifested themselves economically, physically and mentally, and cannot be ignored - the Bishops urge - along with the inequalities and injustices that are manifesting themselves. Among the issues of concern to the Bishops' Conference are social deterioration and violence against women, as well as territorial conflicts, for which they appeal to the inhabitants of these territories in favor of peace and reconciliation, and to the authorities to provide a solution to the problem.
"The deterioration of democracy and the application of justice, due to corruption, is increasingly evident, and the beginning of the electoral process, in this context, becomes complex and causes skepticism and mistrust in the country," the Bishops again highlight, recalling the presidential elections next June. "Despite everything," they continue, "we believe in democracy as a system of government that avoids centralization and manipulation of power. It is possible to promote, even under these circumstances, an honest and transparent electoral process, so that both voters and candidates seek the common good."
During the Assembly, the bishops elected the new board of directors of the Bishops' Conference for the three-year period 2023-2026, which will be headed by Monsignor Rodolfo Valenzuela Nunes, Bishop of La Verapaz, as President and Monsignor Bernabé de Jesus Segastume Lemus, Bishop of San Marcos, as Vice-President. Together with them, those in charge of the other pastoral offices and areas were also elected.
Thanking Bishop Gonzalo de Villa for his six-year service as President of the Episcopal Conference, the Guatemalan bishops renewed their commitment to "continue to work for the construction of the Kingdom in the different services" and have requested the prayers of the People of God so that his pastoral ministry is carried out "according to the will of the One who called us and sent us to the service of our brothers and sisters." Finally, they entrust themselves to the Blessed Mother, Virgin of the Rosary "to keep Christian hope alive in beloved Guatemala". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 28/1/2023)