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Argentina ‘edging towards crisis’ says bishop

31 May 2013

Reuters

Way of life: a woman takes a picture inside the Vatican exhibition "Argentina: The Gaucho, Tradition, Art, and Faith", which celebrates gauchos - cowboys from the pampas of Pope Francis's homeland. It runs until 16 June in the  Braccio di Carlo Magno, next to St Peter's Basilica

Way of life: a woman takes a picture inside the Vatican exhibition "Argentina: The Gaucho, Tradition, Art, and Faith", which celebrates gauchos - co...

THE Bishop of Doncaster, the Rt Revd Peter Burrows, has said that he felt a "palpable sense of fear" on his trip to Argentina this month.

He learned how people were afraid when travelling on public transport, and that the Bishop of Argentina, the Most Revd Greg Venables, had been mugged at knife-point in a taxi. A pastor from an Evangelical church in an urban area of Buenos Aires, who said that he had been shot, left Bishop Burrows "impressed by his commitment and faith".

Argentina is linked with the diocese of Sheffield. Bishop Burrows last visited the country shortly after the economic crisis of 1991-2002, and, writing on his blog, he said that the current government was "edging towards a crisis".

Inflation was running at almost 11 per cent and there had been rioting in the streets of Buenos Aires. "Few people supported the President," he wrote, "and many were critical of the government's policies. Corruption appears endemic within political circles, and there is little trust of politicians."

He noted, however, that, although there were "many deep and searching questions to ask", there was a sense of "hope for the future, and a sense of God's presence". The country was "90 per cent Roman Catholic" and the other Churches that had grown "significantly" were the Pentecostal, Free, and Evangelical ones.

The Anglican Church had only six paid clergy, and was "struggling financially", yet it was "rich in opportunities and commitment to the gospel and God's mission".

Bishop Burrows's address to the Anglican Synod tackled "how the Church can witness in a pluralist society", a timely topic for a church "focused on how to engage with society which is both conservative and avant-garde".

On Friday, Bishop Burrows said that the Argentinians whom he had met expressed "huge pride and joy" in the election of Pope Francis. "He is clearly seen by many to be a real person of holiness, but also a person prepared to take on the government and other officials on the questions of poverty and health and security.

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