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From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Sun, 16 Feb 2003 14:36:38 -0800

P.O. Box 14-225
Lima 14 Perz

Editor: Fernando Oshige


BOLIVIA: Churches concerned about violence unleashed in Bolivia
MEXICO: Christian leaders denounce persecution of Evangelicals in Chiapas
MEXICO: Traditionalist Catholics threaten Evangelicals in Chiapas
COLOMBIA :Presbyterian women speak out against violence and in favor of 
URUGUAY:    Methodist Church of Uruguay speaks out on abortion
BRAZIL:  National Council of Churches (CONIC) calls on Churches to oppose war

Churches concerned about violence unleashed in Bolivia

LA PAZ, February 14, 2003 (alc). While this capital and other Bolivian
cities recover from violent confrontations Wednesday and Thursday, that left
more than 20 dead and dozens of injured, messages of solidarity from Pope
John Paul II and Evangelical Churches helped calm troubled waters.

 From Buenos Aires, the Evangelical Methodist Council of Churches of Latin
America and the Caribbean (CIEMAL) expressed its solidarity with the
Bolivian Church and people and prayed that God would console the families of
the victims and rejected any type of violence.

We lament that another country, now Bolivia, is suffering the consequences
of an economic adjustment that only harms those who have the least. When an
economic system does not serve the well being of the community but benefits
those with money and power, it contradicts God's plan, said CIEMAL.

We affirm that truth, justice, respect for human rights and the fullness of
life is an indispensable value to find the road to peace and hope, concluded
the message signed by Bishop Emeritus Aldo M. Etchegoyen, general secretary
and Bishop Isaias Gutierrez, president of the CIEMAL.

In a telegram sent to the Archbishop of Santa Cruz, Julio Terrazas Sandoval,
Pope Juan Paul II expressed his profound concern about the Bolivian crisis,
called on authorities and the population to detain the wave of violence and
to commit "all peaceful means" to finding a just solution for the critical
economic situation.

The violence, marked by confrontations between rioting police and military
forces loyal to the government was compounded by ransacking and fires set by
enrages crowds, began when President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada approved
economic adjustment measures, including a 12.5 percent salary tax.

On Thursday the Bolivian government and the police, who rioted to demand
better wages, signed an agreement to restore a rule of law. The agreement
included US$10,000 in compensation for the families of police officers who
died in the confrontation and an extraordinary bonus for the country's
15,000 policemen.  The president also agreed to reconsider the salary tax.

Meanwhile, Rev. Humberto Ramos, president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
of Bolivia (IELB) called on political leaders to orient the people to put an
end to the violence.

"We cannot continue to allow the bloodshed and loss of human lives," he
said. This is not the time to blame or to seek political advantages but to
offer peace and hope for the good of the Bolivian people, he added.

Christian leaders denounce persecution of Evangelicals in Chiapas

MEXICO, Feb 13 (alc). Traditionalist Catholics and political leaders from 
San Juan Chamula, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas offer 
US$2,500 for the murder of Evangelical leaders, denounced the president of 
the National Confraternity of Evangelical Christian Churches 
(CONFRATERNICE), Arturo Farela Gutiirrez.

In declarations to ALC, Farela said that these threats are not knew as 
Evangelicals have been persecuted in San Juan Chamula for years and there 
is no authority that intervenes to put an end to this situation.

Farela, a neoPentecostal pastor from the Prince of Peace Church, who is 
also a lawyer, said that more than 35,000 Evangelical indigenous have been 
forced to flee the zone as their lives are constantly threatened. Those who 
abandon traditional Catholicism do not have access to water and children 
cannot attend public schools, he said.

The CONFRATERNICE leader also said that the murder of seven people, at the 
beginning of the month, was due to power struggles between Traditionalist 
Catholics (who practice a Syncretist religion) and Catholics who follow 
Bishop Emeritus Samuel Ruiz Garcia and municipal authorities.

The first group violently persecutes Evangelicals, accusing them of 
breaking down local traditions. Moreover, in Chiapas there is a struggle 
for political power among leaders from the Partido Revolucionario 
Institucional (PRI) and the Partido Revolucionario Democratico (PRD).

The CONFRATERNICE leader affirmed that "municipal authorities, Catholic 
traditionalists and leaders offer 30,000 pesos for every murdered 
Evangelical leader." He added that leaders contract hit men and give them 
15,000 up-front. Once the leader is dead they pay them the other half, he 
alleged. "This is the price of professing the Evangelical faith in San Juan 
Chamula," said Farela.

CONFRATERNICE Is a civil association that groups together professionals, 
intellectuals, Evangelical ministers, religious and civil institutions, 
created in 1992 to help Churches in the application of the Religious 
Associations and Public Worship Law, in issues such as human rights, legal 
paperwork and others.

MEXICO: Traditionalist Catholics threaten Evangelicals in Chiapas

SAN CRISTSBAL DE LAS CASAS, February 12, 2003 (ALC) Traditionalist 
Catholics, armed with high-powered weapons, threaten Evangelicals from the 
Tzotzil ethnic group in the community of Mitziton, in the municipality of 
San Cristobal in las Casas, Chiapas, where both groups have been at 
loggerheads for the past several years.

In the center of Mitziton there are posts, wires and chains that 
traditionalist Catholics have set up to keep the Evangelicals from passing, 
according to the daily La Jornada.

Since last year a group of state police has been stationed in the area to 
try and avoid confrontations between both groups that have previously lead 
to injuries, arrests and property damage, the paper added.

Last Saturday night, unidentified individuals opened fire against Tzotzil 
Evangelical Sixto Heredia Gomez vehicle in the Mirabel barrio.

The car was hit twice but there were no victims. In Mirabel, displaced 
Evangelicals live in San Juan Chamula where seven people died in conflicts 
earlier this month. The neighborhood is located 3 kms. from the Rancho 
Nuevo military headquarters and 15 kms from San Cristobal de las Casas.

Hours before the incident the state government reported that groups from 
Mitziton who disputed land in Mirabel had signed an agreement stipulating 
that the Agrarian legal office would resolve the dispute between 
Evangelicals and traditionalist Catholics.

According to Heredia Gomez, the traditionalists are angry "because there 
are Evangelicals in the community."

The Tzotzil called on authorities to ensure that the attack on his car is 
fully investigated and those responsible brought to justice because "a lack 
of justice frequently generates more confrontations."

He also called on the Agrarian Prosecutor to define the situation of three 
Evangelical farmers. According to Gomez, traditionalists are trying to 
strip them of their land, under the argument that they are not cooperating 
for the wellbeing of the community.

The argument is based on the fact that they do not collaborate with 
religious festivals. Indigenous Juan Jimenez indicated that the conflict in 
his area is religious and agrarian, despite the fact that the state 
government "seeks to give it another meaning."

The government tells lies and says that the problem is resolved in 
Mitziton. The government knows who the aggressors are and the groups that 
have weapons and we want to know if it is going to apply justice because 
the responsible are still at large," he told La Jornada.

Presbyterian women speak out against violence and in favor of negotiation

BOGOTA, Feb 12 (ALC) The National Congress of Presbyterian Women, meeting 
in Medellin January 22-25 rejected the violence racking the country and 
affirmed their conviction that the solution to the armed conflict in 
Colombia is not war, but negotiation.

The Congress, under the slogan "Affirming Womens Dignity in Contexts of 
Violence" declared that Colombian society challenges women to struggle 
against a devastating economic model that denies the possibility of life 
and increases poverty. Equally, it challenges women to struggle against 
State and government policies that promote marginalization, the oppression 
of women and all people.

After confirming the "permanent violation of human rights in all their 
expressions," the Congress condemned the "indiscriminate violence that 
leads to campesinos, indigenous people and humble people being displaced 
and torn away from their land."

In the face of this situation "we raise our voice in protest against the 
entire system that does not promote equity and justice and we express our 
willingness to struggle to build Colombia without aggression and 

The Presbyterian women criticized "all systems of exclusion that are 
legitimized by state and government polices that cause marginalization and 
the death of women, men, boys and girls," as well as "attitudes that 
promote a lack of dignity for women and a lack of recognition for the work 
they develop in the Church and society."

The document points to the urgent need to strengthen educational processes 
from a gender perspective to affirm equity between men and women.

Women from the Presbyterian Church of Colombia expressed their disapproval 
of the degradation of nature that God placed in our hands to produce life. 
They reiterated their solidarity with women who work under the same 
conditions as men but do not receive equal pay and with all those who are 
unable to obtain a dignified job that will allow their development and that 
of their families.

We continue working to build hope for all, concludes the declaration.

Methodist Church of Uruguay speaks out on abortion

MONTEVIDEO, February 11, 2003 (alc). The Evangelical Methodist Church of 
Uruguay (IEMU) published a statement about abortion at a time when the 
country is embroiled in national debate about a Reproductive Health bill, 
recently approved by the legislature and soon to go before Senate.

This is a polemic issue, with or without the bill, said the IEMU in a 
statement. Different pressures have arisen and judgements have been 
expressed, which we do not believe is positive for a pluralist society such 
as our own. In the course of the argument religious concepts have been 
expressed that, while we respect them, do not represent the IEMU, according 
to the statement.

The Methodist Church understands that life is a gift from God and therefore 
it does not condone abortion or anything else that attacks human life, it 

We believe that it is imperative that we seriously reflect on this issue, 
given the impact in our society, with numbers that reach 80 abortions a day 
and the maternal death rate (the majority poor women). Moreover, childhood 
in Uruguay has become a symbol of poverty and it is particularly important 
given the ethical challenges that are being raised for Christians about the 
creation of life, it said.

We hope that this document can encourage dialogue in our congregations with 
an eye to our 2004 General Assembly and that it contributes to national 
debate, said the statement signed by Oscar Bolioli, president of the IEMU.

After summarizing the position of other Methodist Churches around the world 
and doctrine from the denomination, the IEMU indicated that it is essential 
to resolve the contradiction that condemns abortion on the one hand but 
opposes family planning or sex education on the other.

The fact that the bill does not include a process to generate information 
and to provide efficient education for responsible parenthood or sexuality 
is a weakness, the IEMU said.

Criminal punishment will not put an end to the 30,000 abortions that take 
place annually but rather a project to support women and their right to 
information and sexual education, it said.

We must not fall into the trap of confusing decriminalization with inciting 
or promoting abortion. However, nor can we act as if abortion does not 
exist or that it is currently efficiently contained or only will be 
contained once the law is approved, the statement said. It also pointed to 
two positive elements in the law.

First, in the face of the need to interrupt the pregnancy, the mother can 
have access to medical attention and basic safety and health conditions 
that protect her physical and mental life. Moreover, it also attempts to 
put an end to the discrimination against women without resources or single 
women who must turn to inappropriate measures.

Finally, it affirms that as the Methodist Church and respecting other 
options: We do not support or promote the indiscriminate practice of 
abortion and we are convinced that it is urgent to seek the means to give 
all women and couples access to the necessary instruments that will lead to 
responsible parenthood.

It concludes by saying that in extreme situations or when life is at risk, 
it is women who should have the right to choose. It also reaffirms its 
respect and accompaniment regarding decisions adopted by its members in the 
framework of the Gospel and before God.

CONIC calls on Churches to oppose war

RMO DE JANEIRO, February 10, 2003 (ALC). The National Council of Christian 
Churches of Rio de Janeiro (CONIC-RIO) convened communities and individuals 
to respect Gods command "Thou Shall not Kill" and to speak out against war.

The entity, which groups together the Catholic Church, the Anglican 
Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession, the 
United Presbyterian and Methodist Church, calls on their faithful to reject 
all types of aggression, above all revenge-motivated acts.

It also calls on the faithful to persist in the search for justice and 
peace, "expressions that best describe the God we serve." A statement from 
CONIC-RIO also denounces the enormous expense involved in war and the 
"delirious vanity of power expressed in showing off weapons."

The declaration, signed by the CONIC-RIO board, lead by Catholic Bishop 
Filippo Santoro, underscored that the Christian faith insists on a peaceful 
solution to conflicts and rejects any bellicose orientation.

No country has the right to take justice into its own hands "not even with 
the insecure and temerarious support of others, to impose horror, 
destruction and death and the massive destruction of nature, with mass 
destruction weapons and equipment, whose use is condemned by universal 
conscience," it said.

As Christian Churches "we cannot witness this action, that is blasphemy to 
God as His name is used to practice evil and because it scorns His love for 
men, women and children," affirmed CONIC-RIO.

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