September 06, 2004

Reverend Mayor?

MABB is a registered TM.

How far does a religious man has to go in order to serve the poor?

Father Wilson Soria, currently assigned to direct the Cristo Redentor congregation in Villa Ingenio, El Alto (La Paz), has decided, according to a report from the APA (Agencia de Prensa Altena), to leave the religious life in order to serve the poor better.

The 45 year old catholic cleric, born in Cochabamba, is praised by the members of his congregation for having played a decisive role during the so called Gas War. The report states that many of his followers have absolute trust in him.

El Alto is in the midst of intense negotiations by the political parties to pick candidates to run for the office of Mayor. Many political parties have been courting religious personalities to join their candidates lists. The Movement Towards Socialism party (MAS) has tempted father Soria to leave his religious post and incur into politics by offering him an ambitious, but as of now, unknown social project.

Critics are quick to comment that religion should not be mixed with politics. Father Soria's indigenous counterparts and critics have said the leaders of MAS have made a mistake in picking a candidate who does not reflect the interests of the native population of El Alto. Moreover they added Father Soria is not the right candidate because he comes from the Catholic Church. The church is considered by the indigenous as having been one of the principal instruments to erase or radically change native customs and beliefs.

Father Soria is, at least for now, the MAS' mayoral candidate for the approaching municipal elections.

My questions:

Should this peculiar candidate be allowed to run for public office?

Should the church be an acceptable spring-board for political life?

To what extent would church and state be mixed if a candidate like Soria gets hold office?

Feel free to post your comments!