From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN COMMUNICATION AGENCY Feb 16 2003
Worldwide Faith News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sun, 16 Feb 2003 14:36:38 -0800
LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN
COMMUNICATION AGENCY (ALC)
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
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
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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