Guayaquil: Church Under Attack

By: Fr. Ed Fugoso, SVD

I am a missionary working in the Vicariate of El Guasmo, Guayaquil, Ecuador. A growing problem in my adopted country is the onslaught of aggressive proselytizing Fundamentalist originating in North America.

Forty Hours
Recently, to culminate our traditional “Las 40 Horas” (40 hours exposition of the Blessed Sacrament) we organized a procession around a different parish distinct before finally ending with the holy Mass. We stopped in 10 different stations and prayed for the families who received us and all the residents of their sector.

Stone Thrown
Everything seemed to be going well as I went along holding high monstrance of the Blessed Sacrament. However, before reaching the 8th station, all of a sudden, one of the acolytes walking in front of me fell injured to the ground. A big fist stone had been thrown from somewhere. Either it had to me or the Blessed Sacrament as the target. Since we were in the sector where most of the Fundamentalist live, we suspected that one of their misguided members did it. The religious Sister who was holding the megaphone said in the clear voice, “We must go on and forgive, as Jesus forgave on the cross.

I Had Doubts
The idea of the public procession arose because I hope to do something about the obvious RELIGIOUS IGNORANCE and RELIGIOUS INDIFFIRENCE pervading the community. But through the insistence of the more active and faithful parishioners I knew the Holy Spirit was inspiring me to go ahead with it. “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” After all, if we keep our religion to ourselves and do not proclaim our faith, then we would be helping to being about a “ghetto Christianity”.

Proselytizing Master Plan
Then in a meeting of all priests and religious working in the vicariate of EL Guasmo, our Bishops told us about the leaked information taken from the recent meeting in Quito (the country’s capital) of all fundamentalist sects working in Ecuador. Their target is to convert this populous El Guasmo, still a primarily Catholic sector, to at least 50% and 50% Fundamentalist by 1992. Every morning one sees a swam of them knocking from door to door; while at night this dry season, you can hardly sleep before midnight for their loud sound system on streets corners all in favor of their proselytizing activities. What we are having now is another form of invasion which is causing greater division in this community already plagued with political and social division.



Basic Christian Communities
To make the matters worse, or at least more pastorally challenging for us, Ecuador will soon receive more foreign financial aid for its Family Planning Program which advocates anti- conception methods. To counteract these programs, which some say are part of a “Low Intensity Conflict” program, we were holding Bible seminars with the objective of building more small basic communities which can be forums for community reflection under the light of God’s word. We have also taken advantage of the materials available from Human Life International. Last July we held various video presentations of “Eclipse of Reason” (dubbed in Spanish) to different groups of youth and adults. The 25-minutes video tackles the evil and horror of abortions. To follow it up, we have scheduled a seminar on natural family planning methods, We invited parents who, would be promoters and teachers themselves of these methods. This gives us hope.