Church leaders in Bolivia demand clarification from government on religious instruction in schools

.- A spokesman from the Bolivian Bishops’ Committee on Education is demanding the government clarify its position on religious instruction in public schools, after the country’s Education Minister, Felix Patzi, announced that Catholicism would no longer be the “official religion” of the country’s educational system.

“We are anxious, not out of fear but out of concern, that the government define its position in order to begin dialogue,” said Micaela Princiotto, member of the Bishops’ Committee on Education and the National Congress of Education. She pointed out that in labeling the Church as “colonialist,” Patzi is ignoring the Church’s contribution to culture, education, health care and development in Bolivia.

Princiotto noted that the Church respects other beliefs and does not demand that the Catholic faith be obligatory, but she questioned whether the Evo Morales government would respect the faith of the Bolivian people, “who are 80% Catholic.”  “I think the problem is not with the Church, but with the faith of the people,” she said.

The Bolivian government’s proposed educational reform calls for “secular education that respects the beliefs, the spirituality of indigenous and native nations and of the Bolivian nations as the basis of individual and communitarian rights.” The National Congress of Education will consider the proposal on July 10-15 in Sucre, Bolivia.