Last Friday, the delegates who had remained at the Congress approved a new educational reform measure that would secularize the country’s schools. Several delegations, including that of the Bolivian bishops, walked out the meeting complaining that government officials had politicized the event.
Auxiliary Bishop Estanislao Dowlaszewicz of Santa Cruz said, “Today some people live as if they were allergic to religion or the Church,” painting it as “a danger for the future of the country” and attempting to, “remove not only religion from the classroom, but God as well.”
During a commemoration of Bolivian independence, attended by President Evo Morales, Archbishop Edmundo Abastoflor of La Paz stated, “It is crazy to think that God doesn’t exist or that we can forget about Him.” “No matter how important we might be in this world, there is someone who is more so than us,” he said.
Several days ago Bolivia’s Minister of Education, Felix Patzi, announced the government would end “the religious monopoly” of the Church. In an interview with La Razon, Patzi said, “In Bolivia the people are not only Catholic, but also of other religious faiths.” He claimed the issue was leading to confrontation among Bolivians, despite polls showing that 77% of the population says they are Catholic and 95% say they are Christians. Patzi, a sociologist by profession, claims to practice a pre-Colombian religion that worships the earth goddess.
Local reporters explained that the measure would still have to be approved by Parliament. However, Patzi, who had previously pledged to the country’s bishops that he would uphold religious instruction in schools, said the conclusions of the Congress were binding and would be implemented immediately.
.- Archbishop Tito Solari expressed his disappointment at the politicization of the recent National Congress on Education in which, “in a Communist fashion, the government imposed its ideology without any room for dialogue.”