Cochabamba (Agenzia Fides) - "Peace be with you" is the greeting of the Risen Lord, "the Lord of history, who wants to encourage us in hope and in building the common good of our beloved homeland, Bolivia": this is the exhortation of the Bolivian bishops at the end of the Plenary Assembly of the Bishops' Conference held in Cochabamba from April 20th to 25th. "As a church, we proclaim the good news of God's love," reads the message published on April 25, "but we see shadows and darkness that we must face together with faith, sincerity and good will. This is true in the absence of certainties that hover over the economy and hit the poorest hardest. Honest and non-political solutions for the good of all must therefore be sought for the economic situation in our country".
In this context, the bishops recall the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, which "have a special power" because it is He who gives himself out of love and always seeks the good of all, and they invite us to follow him: "As a good teacher he tells us that we must be shaped by respect, tolerance, kindness, forgiveness, solidarity, love, justice, responsibility, fairness, friendship, freedom and honesty".
The situation of the education system in Bolivia, which is confronted with controversial tendencies, gives particular cause for concern. The bishops join calls from teachers and parents, who amid public protests, called for "the new curriculum to be revised and reformed as it reflects a lack of participation, listening and dialogue between the sectors concerned". Another concern of the bishops is the education of children and young people, which, according to the bishops, should take place within the framework of the family and its values, so as not to create confusion and disorientation. "That is why we reject the forced approach of gender ideology," say the bishops, who stress the importance of giving parents at home and teachers at school the opportunity to participate in the development of a new curriculum to engage in dialogue and propose content and standards to improve the quality of education.
However, the country faces several other challenges, including the call for our "sister earth", concern for indigenous peoples and the lands they inhabit, for which all should share responsibility. The bishops specifically ask to "build a culture of peace that puts aside submission, economic and political interests and respects the dignity and identity of our indigenous brothers and sisters,
whose characteristics are respect, sincerity and humility". The country's heads of state and government and political leaders are called upon to "work for a genuine democracy that we must preserve and nurture"; there is also an urgent need to "start a profound renewal of the judiciary that will restore its true role and its service to the citizen".
The message concludes by stating that "Christ's Resurrection gives meaning to all the events of history, helps us to regain serenity and enlightens us in the darkness of our personal and community life". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 26/4/2023)