Pope calls Latin America to heel
I) y Jonathan Petry
POPE John Paul II this afternoon begins potentially the most dangerous and dramatic part of his twelve. day Latin American tour when he arrives in Lima, capital of Peru.
Fears for his safety will be at their highest tomorrow when he travels to the heart of the southern Peruvian province of Ayacucho, centre of guerrilla operations by the Maoist Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) group. More than 4,000 people have been killed in the region in the last four years, as government forces have engaged in counter-insurgency tactics.
If all goes as planned the Pope will spend an hour in the old Spanish colonial city where he will address thousands, including more than 200,000 Indian peasants, on the need for peace. Security will be at an unprecedented level, and residents who want to hear him will not be allowed to wear their traditional ponchos and sombreros for fear that the clothing might be used to conceal a bomb.
The Peru visit also brings the Pope to the country of Fr Gustavo Gutierrez, credited with founding liberation theology. The papal itinerary does not include any meeting with the priest, who is a theology professor at the Catholic University of Peru, but the Pope has already warned against mixing Christianity and Marxism in the search for solutions for social, economic and political problems of the region.
In a speech to Venczualan bishops at the Apostolic Palace III Caracas on Saturday, the first days of his trip, he called for social justice but condemned deviations from Catholic doctrine which, he said, sought an "illusory earthly liberation."
He urged the bishops to discipline what he called "erring" priests who "disfigure the gospel message, using it at the service of ideologies and political strategies."
The Pope exhorted the bishops to he vigilant "in order to remove from the flock the errors that threaten it, a delicate duty, which requires a special pastoral act, both in order to win over the errant and to prevent the faith of the community from being damaged."
He added that unfortunately there are those who "abusing the mission to teach what they have received from the Church, proclaim not the truth of Christ but their own theories, at times in open contrast to the magisterium of the Church."
He urged the bishops to use their influence to correct those priests and theologians who, he held, have strayed from "correct doctrine" and to "above all, impede he who abuses the authority of the Church."
Earlier, on the flight from Rome, he told reporters that liberation theology could be a serious deviation but generalisation should be avoided as the theology took many forms.
On Sunday, during a celebration of Mass before hundreds ot thousands of people in Caracas, the Pope condemned abortion, sterilisation and divorce.
With the shanty-town slums and the modern skyscrapers as a dramatic backdrop, the Pope said that contraception and sterilisation were always "seriously illicit". Parents should decide the number and spacing of their children in a "clearly responsible way," he added.
"Remember, it is never legal to end a human life with abortion or euthanasia."
On Monday the Pope took to the mountains when he conducted a spectacular openail Mass high in the Andes at Merida in western Venezuela.
During the Mass he emphasised to the tens of thousands in the congregation the central theme of the tour, fidelity to the Church's teaching and religious discipline.
"To be faithful to the Church means to not let yourself he taken in by doctrines or ideologies contrary to Catholic dogma, which some groups of materialistic inspiration or of doubtful religious content would like."
Earlier, in a meeting with Archbishop Arturo Rivera y Damas of San Salvador, the Pope made clear that he might be willing to act as a mediator in the faltering El Salvador peace talks between President Duarte and the left-wing guerrillas.
The Pope arrived in Peru today after a three day visit to Ecuador on the west coast of South America. This morning he plans to carry out the first of two beatifications, the first to take place in Latin America, for Ecuadorian Mother Mercedes de Jesus Molina at Guayaquil. Tomorrow he plans to beatify seventeenth century Peruvian Sr Ana de los Angeles in Arequipa, Peru.
He returns to Rome via the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago on February 6.