The bishops of Bolivia have issued an urgent call for peace in response to violent protests in the city of Santa Cruz against the approval of a new constitution. The riots have left four people dead and at least 130 injured.
“In response to the latest events in Sucre, which have profoundly wounded fraternal harmony in our country, with our hearts filled with sorrow over the unjust deaths and the suffering of so many brothers and sisters, we make this passionate call for respect for life, for an end to all confrontations and for peace,” the bishops said in statement.
The document was presented this Sunday during a press conference attended by the vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia, Archbishop Edmundo Abastoflor, and Conference secretary, Archbishop Jesus Juarez, and other church officials. “This should be a time of dialogue and rationality, not of confrontations. We should sit down as brothers and sisters and plan our future together!” the bishops said.
Addressing the parties involved in the confrontations, the bishops said, “This is not the path toward building a future for Bolivia. Wounds and blood sow hatred and will continue to divide us. We must put down the weapons of violence and be reconciled with each other.”
They also called on politicians and civil leaders to guide their followers and “devote themselves to the service of peace and good for the country.”
“To people of peace who have been disturbed and discouraged by the latest events,” the bishops continued, “we exhort them to remain firm in their position as peacemakers” and to strive to build up the country through dialogue, respect for life and the dignity of all persons, the search for the common good and through care for the marginalized and those who are last in our society.”
The bishops said they pray that God would “enlighten the hearts and minds of all Bolivians,” that they would spare “no effort in overcoming this time of sorrow and division.”