Bolivian government to abolish Catholic religion courses

The new administration in Catholic-dominated Bolivia is considering a move to abolish compulsory Catholic religion courses in schools and replace it with a course on the history of religions.

Catholic World News reports that according to Education Minister Felix Patzi, under the Evo Morales (pictured) administration, "education will emphatically be secular and no longer Catholic. Religion classes will now be optional instead of obligatory. There will be a course on the history of religions: indigenous, Arabic, or Catholic."

The proposed educational reform calls for "secular education that respects the beliefs, the spirituality of indigenous and native nations and of the Bolivian nations as the basis of individual and communitarian rights."

The National Congress of Education will consider the proposal on mid-July.

Although the Bishops' Conference of Bolivia has not yet issued an official statement, Archbishop Tito Solari of Cochabamba said the government should be consistent with what it has said about respecting beliefs, which "implies respecting the Catholic beliefs of the majority of Bolivians."

"Parents are the first and foremost educators of their children," he said, "therefore they have the right to choose the kind of education they want."

The Archbishop noted that families are very appreciative of the schools that are administered by the Church, which serve the community and, in a special way, those in need.

"The state and the institutions of civil society can contribute, in a democratic atmosphere, to people choosing the best educational model for the integral and critical formation of persons," Archbishop Solari said.

Bolivian government to eliminate Catholic religious instruction (Catholic World News, 12/6/2006)

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14 Jun 2006