Bolivian Bishops stress importance of religious freedom

The Bolivian Episcopal Conference stresses the importance of Freedom of Religion and Conscience

The General Secretary of the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference, Aurelio Pesoa Ribera, OFM, Auxiliary Bishop of La Paz, presented a bishops’ statement on two current issues in the country: The Law on Religious Freedom, Right to Conscientious objection to Catholic doctors and charges of sexual abuse in the Church.

Fides News Agency reported that the statement entitled “Freedom of religion and conscience in Bolivia” states: “The Law on Religious Freedom is a necessary legal framework to regulate the presence of various religious groups and their activities in the country.

Despite some shortcomings, we believe that this represents a step forward compared to the existing legislation. Some important aspects have been clarified, such as the legal personality, the tax issue, the right of parents to the decision on the religious education of their children  amongst other issues. It is a law that interests us as the Catholic Church in order to develop new agreements that regulate the relations between the Catholic Church and the State of Bolivia.”

Conscientious objections

With regard to freedom of conscience, the Bishops recall the case of two doctors who refused to perform an abortion. “Apart from the technical and legal considerations that the case deserves,” the statement said, “as a Catholic Church, we have on several occasions expressed the need to recognize in Bolivia the right to conscientious objection in these and other circumstances because we consider the safeguarding of freedom as a priority. No one should be forced to act against his conscience.”

Finally, with regard to abuses in the church, the CEB expressed its commitment to act “with transparency, justice, and charity” towards the victims in the case of sexual abuse by priests in Bolivia.