.- Church leaders in Bolivia are responding to the government's decision to revoke the diplomatic passports of the country's bishops.
The vicar general of the Archdiocese of Santa Cruz, Fr. Robert Herman Flock responded to the decision, saying the bishops are not concerned with the new policy.
Fr. Herman said the diplomatic passports were “privileges (the bishops) enjoyed in the past,” but added that they are no longer necessary.
In the future, he continued, if Cardinal Julio Terrazas of Santa Cruz “travels to other countries, he will travel with his Bolivian passport and his Vatican City passport.”
Father Herman said the Bolivian government's decision is “consistent with the changes to the Constitution and with the viewpoint of a secular state. If we think about it, the cardinal does not represent the government of Bolivia.”
However, he noted that while the Church does not officially represent the government, she does represent “Catholic and Christian Bolivians, who evidently make up the majority of the population.”
The deputy secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia, Bishop Eugenio Scarpellini, denied that the revoking of the passports would affect “our pastoral work and our commitment of evangelization to our parishes and communities.”
The Bolivian government recently issued the decree revoking the bishops' passports as part of a “policy of austerity” to “prevent the misuse of this kind of documentation,” according to government minister Sacha Llorenti.