File photo of Pope Francis blessing a copy of "Our Lady of Guadalupe" File photo of Pope Francis blessing a copy of "Our Lady of Guadalupe"  (AFP or licensors)

Pope invites leaders of Bolivarian countries to foster fraternity

In a letter addressed to a meeting between pastors and lay people with political leaders in the Bolivarian countries, Pope Francis highlights the need for dialogue and fraternity in the pursuit of reconciliation and the common good.

By Linda Bordoni

Upholding the richness of Latin America’s history and culture, which is imbued by “deep religiosity” and “beautiful experiences of fraternity,” Pope Francis has invited participants in a meeting of pastors and laypersons taking place in Bogotà to address the challenges unique to the region.

The Bolivarian countries include Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela, whose republican origins are attributed to the ideals of Simón Bolívar. The meeting in the Colombian capital from 22 to 24 November aimed to facilitate discussions and promote social cohesion.


These countries, the Pope noted, are characterized by their "mestizaje," a way of being that integrates pre-Hispanic cultures and various European traditions.

Emphasizing the importance of fraternity, he said this trait, though in the past achieved with violence, holds a unique place in the identity of Latin America.

“The history of our peoples... shows the wounds of sin and also the effects of redemption,” the Pope said, adding that the Latin American ‘mestizaje’ is both ethnic and cultural, and it is much more than the "sum of its parts".

Even today, he continued, “With powerful cultural currents from all parts of the world infusing Latin America, it is possible to detect an originality that makes us sister to and distinguishes us from other communities.”

The role of the Church

The Holy Father said the contribution of the Church in the lives of these nations is irreplaceable. He emphasized the fact that the spaces of power are not the most important aspects of societal development.

Stressing the significance of processes that humanize coexistence and promote social cohesion, the Holy Father highlighted that the Church's role lies in joyful proclamation as well as in charity and activism.

“Those of us who follow Jesus know that our mission is not mere activism, but the joyful proclamation of the good news, which announces that the greatest friendship lies in laying down one's life for one's friends and loving one's enemies,” he said.

And he added that this "giving of life", this "loving," sometimes involves extraordinary sacrifices, like those of our martyrs, and at other times, silent acts of forgiveness, which are also self-giving and witness.”

And calling for a politics rooted in fraternity, he encouraged leaders to follow the example of Jesus in both private and public life.

A ‘Samaritan style’ of politics

Pope Francis called for individuals who can build bridges of fraternity, introducing a "Samaritan style" of politics and cautioning against extremism, messianism, and “much less aggression and bitterness.”

“We will only find new paths for our peoples from hearts willing to do the impossible—to dialogue with respect, to learn from the other (even from the adversary), to make political life an exercise in social harmony in which we can all recognise each other as brothers and sisters,” he said.

Pope Francis concluded his letter by urging participants at the meeting to continue their engagement in the political life of the Latin American peoples and invoking the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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25 November 2023, 10:29