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A new president for Peru –
Clear demands and an uncertain future
A new bishop for South Lima –
and challenges for its church

June 2006 

The following editorial was written by Fr. Tom Burns, MM for the diocesan newspaper in Lima, Peru, where he has served for many years. This version in English is a translation from the original editorial, written in Spanish, available here.

From these pages of Avansur we first want to congratulate our country’s president-elect, Alan Garcia, wishing him success in his future efforts to forge a just and reconciled nation with the participation of all Peruvians. We also want to welcome our new Shepherd of the Lurín Diocese, Msgr. Carlos Garcia. We learned of his appointment just as we sat down to write this editorial. Finally we would like to reiterate our deepest appreciation for the pastoral work of our Founding Bishop, José Ramón Gurruchaga, who laid the groundwork for this new Diocese of Lurín. Due to his commitment and dedication we have, in his words, “more of a future than a past.”

And that is the question we all ask ourselves in these post-elections days: What is the future awaiting us as a nation? In the first round of the election process - in our opinion here at Avansur - there was a clear demand made from the nation’s peripheries to the centers of political and economic power: “There has been neither the ‘trickle down’ promised, nor the integration we hoped for; we are tired of being impoverished as others grow richer, as well as continuing to be socially and racially excluded as we have been for centuries. We too are Peruvians.”

In an initial reading of the second electoral round, we find an attempt at a response by the coast’s middle-class sectors: “We acknowledge your demand as fair and long overdue, but we are afraid of radical or violent change, cleaning the slate and starting over from scratch. We’d like to do it democratically, constructively making a concerted effort together at a redistribution of the nation’s wealth as well geographical and racial integration.” Here at Avansur we take that to mean national integration, social justice and egalitarian multiculturality.

We face many challenges ahead, however, if we want to reach these laudable goals. The biggest among them is the historical distrust between economic classes, ethnic groups and cultures, a distrust that has been exacerbated after decades of economic crisis, political violence and social corruption. The question these days, not only politically but also pastorally, is who can be trusted? On the one hand, there is a deep hunger and yearning for equality and reconciliation; on the other, there are even deeper wounds and doubts, sowing insecurity vis-à-vis the future. To overcome these doubts we have to the risk - and trust - and this is not easy for us. At the same time we must assume our responsibility to participate actively as citizens and be vigilant to make sure our demands in the electoral process are met.

In the Diocese of Lurín (South Lima), we know that these same feelings and demands are shared by our neighbors and this challenges us as a church to build a community incarnated in our history and rooted here in the south. “That all may be one that the world may believe” says Jesus. The Lord calls us to mission and the Spirit leads us forward - to build together a church worthy of trust and committed to the history of its people. This church worthy of trust must become like the yeast which ferments all the parishes, sectors and pastoral zones of Lima South. We must have faith that if we do so, hope will be renewed, and we will able to forge together the future of justice and reconciliation we all hunger for, God willing.


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