Wave of attacks against Catholics in Latin America.

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Published on Nov 30, 2017
Wave of attacks against Catholics in Latin America.

June 30, 2009. Over recent months attacks have increased against Christians in Latin America. Apparently, these are isolated cases and not related to each other.

However, the Vatican has become increasingly concerned about them.

In April, a bomb exploded at the door of Bolivian Cardinal Julio Terrazas. The attack came after the cardinal criticized Evo Morales government policies.

And in May, a parish was forcibly demolished in Bolivia. Members of a local neighbourhood group even threatened to dynamite the church if the parish priest blocked them from tearing it down.

In Rome, Archbishop José Octavio Ruiz Arenas, vice president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, has expressed worries that this is becoming an increasingly common reality for the Church in some Latin American countries.

Arch. José Octavio Ruiz Arenas
Vice-president, Pontifical Commission for Latin America
"The Church has a voice that often speaks on behalf of those who cant speak. The Church watches over justice, the family, the respect for life, the dignity of the human person. These are values which the Church cannot ignore and has to defend. And many times this goes against some of the governments plans or international policies but the Church cant remain silent".

A similar situation is developing in Venezuela. And this is not just about President Hugo Chávez insulting the bishops. Last year, masked men attacked the car carrying the cardinal of Caracas and they occupied the archdiocese. On a separate occasion they fired tear gas at the building where the papal nunciature is located.

In other countries there have also been episodes of violence. In Brazil, a priest who helped young people in difficult situations was killed.

In Mexico, several bishops have received death threats from drug traffickers, and recently a priest and two seminarians were killed.

In face of this situation and increasing worries, bishops from Latin American are responding with a project called "Continental Mission which aims to present the Church in a new way.

Arch. José Octavio Ruiz Arenas
Vice-president, Pontifical Commission for Latin America
"Its a mission thats not only about bringing a few preachers, giving a few lectures, celebrating a large Mass and planting a great Cross, the way old missions were. This is about placing the Church in a state of mission, and by this, I mean that bishops, priests, religious and laypeople are aware that were all missionaries".

Archbishop Ruiz is the one of the Popes main collaborators on issues concerning the Church in Latin America. He says it is vital that the continent continues to strengthen faith, devotion to Mary and respect for the Pope, in this place where more than half the worlds Catholics live.



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