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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Pope, Bolivian bishops discuss rise of ‘parallel’ churches

Pope Francis urged the bishops of Bolivia to faithfully guide their flocks as breakaway groups comprised of former priests and seminarians are gaining ground in the country.

“They are schismatic groups that have arisen within the Church and are not in communion with the pope or the bishops. Clearly, it is a challenge. The pope reiterated that it is a problem we must confront,” Archbishop Oscar Aparicio Cespedes of Cochabamba told Catholic News Service.

Archbishop Aparicio, vice president of the Bolivian bishops’ conference, said the 31 bishops making their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican spent more than two hours talking with Pope Francis on 18th September.

The visits “ad limina apostolorum” – to the threshold of the apostles – are a combination of a pilgrimage to the tombs of Ss Peter and Paul and meetings with the main Vatican offices to exchange information, insights and ideas.

The problematic groups in Bolivia, also known as “parallel churches,” are made of priests who have been suspended from their ministry and “seminarians who have claimed autonomy and distance from the Church,” the archbishop said.

Picture: Pope Francis poses with members of the Bolivian bishops’ conference during a meeting at the Vatican on 18th September. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano).