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Cochabamba – “Let’s build together a dream of a Country, a common home where everyone is recognized as citizens with their rights, responds with their duties and enjoys a life worthy of children of God in a united, fraternal, just and supportive society. Only this commitment will give us a future; instead, opting for violence and confrontation will bring poverty, suffering and more control and limitation of freedom”. This is the exhortation that the Bishops of Bolivia address to the people of God in the message “of hope and peace” published at the end of their plenary assembly, in which they examined the reality of the country in the light of the Gospel .
Among the concerns of the Bishops, the message sent to Fides puts the Covid-19 pandemic in the first place, which continues to cause “suffering and mourning to the Bolivian family, puts us to the test and requires us to respond with responsibility and solidarity”. Then they mention “the promulgation of projects and laws of dubious constitutionality, made without adequate study, consensus and socialization, as it should be in a state of law and full democracy”. Some sectors have mobilized to repeal these rules, “perceived as a violation of freedoms and fundamental rights”, which would pave the way for an autocratic state. The bishops warn that the confrontation in the street, in which brothers face brothers against brothers, “cannot be an answer, it generates pain, wounds and death, in addition to hatred and resentment that will take years to be overcome”, therefore the way forward is to repeal these laws, to open a sincere and constructive dialogue on a national agenda. “Another worrying problem, which awaits a consensual and fair response – they continue – is the subjugation of violent groups to parks, protected reserves, community and private lands, violating the human rights of groups and individuals, facts that remain in impunity”. The message underlines that “the absence of the State increases the risk of irregular groups with possible links to drug trafficking” and that many families, in all regions of Bolivia, need to be able to have land, “without distinction and without discrimination”.
Acts that affect individuals and communities in defense of life, such as rape, abuse of minors and women, femicide, abandonment and abuse of minors, attacks on human life from conception to natural death, concern the Pastors. Furthermore, “these crimes, contrary to human and Christian values, are even more reprehensible because they are perpetrated against innocent lives in the face of the indifference or complicity of those called to defend them”. After having listed the main reasons for concern of the Bolivian reality, the Bishops believe that “it is time to fulfill the promises to govern by truly listening to all sectors of the people; in particular, those who are affected, establishing a serious, transparent and open dialogue that generates just and consensual responses in relevant instances. This requires concrete and practicable signs of goodwill on the part of the authorities established in response to the clamor of the sectors involved”. The message concludes by recalling that the initiatives of the Church at the Latin American and universal level, in the spirit of the Synod – that is, to walk together – “enlighten us in the search for answers to these challenges as the people of God, bearing witness to Jesus Christ, the Lord of peace and life”. The next Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean “will be an opportunity to rethink and renew our Christian commitment. The difficulties we may encounter must not discourage us. The Ecclesial Assembly reminds us of the commitment to walk together towards a single goal: to announce the joy of the Gospel of Christ and to be missionaries and servants of the Kingdom of God, in a world thirsty for authenticity and peace, and for a clean nature, common home for us and for future generations”.