DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     May 19, 1998     vol. 9, no. 97

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          LIMA (CWNews.com) - Peru's Catholic bishops on Friday described as "religious and cultural suicide" a proposed new law that would move all Peruvian religious feasts to the closest following Monday.

          At present, Peru's calendar includes four religious holidays besides Christmas and Holy Week: The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29, The Feast of Saint Rose of Lima on August 30, All Saints' Day on November 1, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.

          The proposed law that would move all four religious feasts to the following Monday was approved by the congressional commission for labor and is now ready to be discussed at the parliament. "The goal of this project is to increase productivity by avoiding holidays in the middle of the work week and increase tourism by making longer weekends," says Congressman Ricardo Marcenaro. Marcenaro admitted that the powerful Peruvian Business Association (CONFIEP) have been lobbying for this law.

          Cardinal Augusto Vargas Alzamora of Lima, the president of the Peruvian Bishops' Conference, said: "The law is based on fallacies and will mean, if approved, the religious and cultural suicide of the country." Cardinal Vargas explained that the experience of 1991, when a government decree moved the religious feasts to the next Monday, "showed that it did not had any relevant effect in either productivity or in tourism." In fact, in 1993, President Fujimori returned religious feasts to their original date.

          According to a CONFIEP statement, "Catholics will be not affected by the change, since each good Catholic would go to Mass with or without the holiday." But Bishop Luis Bambaren Gastelumendi, secretary-general of the bishops' conference, said: "This is a very weak argument, because the question here is whether our laws and culture help Catholics to maintain the true spirit of religious feasts or if they exist to make it more difficult." He added, "In other words, the question is who we believe deserves the holiday: God or industry?"

          According to the independent local pollster Apoyo, more than 70 percent of Peruvians oppose the proposal. "The reason is obvious," said Cardinal Vargas. "To our people the religious feasts are deeply enmeshed with culture and family moments that require keeping the celebration united with the holiday."

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

May 19, 1998       volume 9, no. 97


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