Bolivia and Vatican Sign Treaty of Cooperation

Acknowledges Ecclesial Contribution in Social Service

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SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia, AUG. 21, 2009 ( Bolivia and the Vatican signed Treaty of Inter-institutional Cooperation Thursday, marking a positive step toward Church-state relations in the nation.

Cardinal Julio Terrazas, the archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and Bolivia’s foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, signed the treaty at the Higher Diakonia School of the Catholic University of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Attending the ceremony were several bishops, national authorities, journalists and special guests.
The ceremony opened with a welcome by bishop Jesús Juárez Párraga of El Alto, secretary-general of the Bolivian episcopal conference. He highlighted the event as a reminder of the need for collaboration between the state and Church.
«It’s important to recognize the Catholic Church’s contribution in social fields such as education, health and social service,» the bishop said. «This mutual collaboration between the state and Church will have beneficial repercussions for the Bolivian population, particularly in the poorest sectors.»
The treaty implies recognition by Bolivia of the social work of the Catholic Church, both for the quality of its services as well as the number and scope of the same, the importance of the religious dimension in the integral formation of persons and of the latter’s right to administer their works.
On the part of the Catholic Church it implies commitment to maintain and improve her attention to the most depressed areas, to support social policies in the framework of Catholic social thought, and to report periodically on the extent of the attention given.
After the signing, Cardinal Terrazas, president of the episcopal conference, expressed gratitude that this treaty was possible in the name of all those people who benefit from the various social works.
He said that the Church has the mission to proclaim the Gospel also through concrete actions that translate into service of one’s neighbor: «We have just finished a signing to prove to all and to say once again to our country, at this moment, that we are at its service, that we do not want our message to be theoretical but that it also must be concretized in real commitments — idealistic if so wished — but true commitments that also forge the new humanity that the Lord desires.»

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