Latin American Bishops Organize Meeting for Politicians

Will Be Held in Chile Sept. 27-30

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SANTIAGO, Chile, SEPT. 2, 2004 ( Seeking ways to support Catholics who are influential because of their leadership, the Latin American bishops will organize a meeting of political leaders in Chile this September.

Responsible for the organization will be the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) through a section of their organization called Lay Constructors of Society, headed by Bishop Jorge Eduardo Lozano, auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the executive secretary of the Department Justice and Solidarity, Father Francisco Escobar Galicia.

«We are aware of a certain disillusionment of the citizenry in regard to politics, coupled in some countries with strong signs of corruption, loss of leadership of traditional political parties, and the advent of new parties or political, civic, or social groups which have not always succeeded in having the unifying force they expected,» Bishop Lozano and Father Escobar said in their letter of convocation.

Therefore, «to form these present or potential leaders is a challenge of the first order for our Latin American Churches,» said the letter.

Moreover, quoting John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation «Ecclesia in America,» 1999, the bishops said that «the renewal of the Church in America will not be possible without the active presence of the laity. Therefore, to a large extent, they bear the responsibility for the future of the Church.»

The general objective of the meeting is to offer proposals for pastoral work with politicians, and to reflect on the political situation of Latin America and the Caribbean.

In addition, an effort will be made to systematize the key elements of the identity of a Christian’s political action, inspired by the social doctrine of the Church, and to foster bonds of fraternity between men of the Church who serve the people of God in the political realm.

Conferences, pastoral experiences, the work of commissions, and times of fraternity «expressed in celebrations with the Lord and brothers» are included in the program, which will bring together participants from Argentina, Chile, the Caribbean (Barbados, Belize, and Guyana), Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Panama, Peru, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.

A requirement for attendance is to be a bishop, president of a national commission for the laity, an executive secretary of a program of pastoral care for the laity at the level of episcopal conference or a young politician. The limit will be two young politicians per country, one involved in politics and one “on the way,” the organizers specified.

For additional information on the meeting write to e-mail address or see the web page of the Chilean Episcopal Conference.

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