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Bolivian government responds to papal call for reconciliation by lashing out
President Evo Morales / Cardinal Julio Terrazas
President Evo Morales / Cardinal Julio Terrazas

.- The rector of the Salesian University in Bolivia, Father Thelian Corona, has expressed disappointment at the government’s reaction to Pope Benedict XVI’s message to the Bolivian bishops during their ad limina visit, in which he called for national reconciliation.

Fr. Corona said a “useless controversy” has been created after President Evo Morales and the vice minister for Coordination with Social Movements, Sacha Llorenti, who said the bishops did not represent the Bolivian faithful in their traditional report to the Pope on the state of the Church in their country. 

“It is childish to think that the leaders of the Church are going to contradict the faith of the people,” the priest said.  “It’s not an individual bishop speaking, but rather the perception of the Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia.  Describing is not the same as judging; describing does not mean casting judgment. To deny the reality of what is happening in Bolivia is like denying there is an economic crisis, it is like denying that there has not been an increase in prices,” he added.

Likewise, Father Corona noted that the Church’s teaching “is never political.” “We are concerned about the statements by vice minister Sacha Llorenti.  If they were his own personal opinions, his perception is not very objective, and if they were in the name of the government, then things are even more delicate.”

Several days ago, during the opening of the Fourth World Congress of Mediation, Bolivian President Evo Morales lashed out at the Church calling her an “instrument of domination that brings injustice and inequality.”

From Rome, Cardinal Julio Terrazas of Santa Cruz de la Sierra urged Bolivians not to be carried away by a spirit of confrontation.  “Let’s not be carried away by confrontational words or statements or phrases in Bolivia and Latin America that claim the bishops are on one side, the priests on another and the faithful on another,” he said.

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