Bolivian Bishops Respond to President's Attacks

Morales Asserts Prayer Is to Dominate, Humiliate

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LA PAZ, Bolivia, JULY 20, 2009 ( Prayer has value and dignity, the bishops of Bolivia are affirming in response to accusations from President Evo Morales that prayer is used to «anesthetize» the people.

«Every man or woman of faith, whatever his or her religious confession, can assert from personal experience the value and dignity of prayer,» the secretary-general of the Bolivian episcopal conference affirmed in a press release.

Bishop Jesús Juárez Párraga made this declaration in response to statements from Morales last Thursday, in which the president said that «certain hierarchs of the Catholic Church in Latin America used prayer as an anesthesia to put the people to sleep.»

Morales was speaking at events marking the 200th anniversary of the Bolivian capital.

He went on to say that «an archbishop in Honduras (is) supporting a dictatorship.» This seemed to be a reference to Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, who has encouraged the international community to consider the history of President Manuel Zelaya before declaring illegal the coup that ousted him at the end of June.

Morales continued saying that «when they cannot dominate us with law, then comes prayer, and when they can’t humiliate or dominate us with prayer, then comes the gun.»

The presidents of Venezuela, Ecuador and Paraguay were present at the event.

Before God

The Bolivian bishops responded to Morales’ words by affirming that «prayer communicates us with God, placing before him our life and that of our brothers, our desires and our seeking of a more just and dignified society.» They said that in prayer, one finds «the strength to commit to the changes necessary so that this [society] can become a reality.»

The prelates asserted that this vision of prayer is entirely different from ideologies that «see in religion a threat to their own plans to achieve power.»

They added that prayer, far from being a factor of domination, gives interior liberty and contributes «constructive and lasting solutions for social coexistence on a path of nonviolence.»

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