Gilberto Pauwels, OMI – Defender of Democracy and Social Struggle


By Roberto Carrasco, OMI Originally Published on El Trochero

Writing about a character, an Oblate missionary, a social fighter, is writing about a person who has dedicated years to a passion: indigenous peoples and caring for our common home. In the last General Chapter of 2022, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate emphasized our recognition of the vocation of the brother, for his equal and complementary responsibility in evangelization (cf. CCRR 7). For this reason, the 37th General Chapter reminds us that as a religious community we are incomplete without the testimony of our Oblate Brothers.

Brother Gilberto Pauwels, OMI

“In nature, the fundamental thing is to defend the biodiversity that exists, trying to avoid that for secondary reasons -we could say- the diversity we have is destroyed, the same could be said of cultures. At first we said that CEPA defends the originality of the cultures, but now we recognize that not only my culture counts, so it is diversity that we defend”.

With these words we can recognize Brother Gilbert Franz Camiel Pauwels Shootetten, OMI -a Belgian missionary who arrived in Bolivia in 1974-, and who in 1995 together with the Oblates, Marcos Van Ryckeghem and Christian Dutry,  founded CEPA -Centro de Ecología and Andean Peoples-. A work that the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate keep alive, because 

“The first and fundamental thing is that we accompany the peoples, the people as such, and the native peoples particularly in two aspects: the first, above all, to better understand their reality in two areas, we help people to better understand nature, its territories, with all their wealth and the threats that exist on them and we do it based on research, publications, talks, workshops, all of this is aimed at making people know”.

This is precisely Brother Gilberto – that’s what all those who know him and have had the opportunity to hear about his passion call him . These words describe very well his passion for announcing the Kingdom of God together with the original peoples of the Altiplano and for the care of the common home.

Gilberto Pauwels is an Oblate brother, who has dedicated years of study to Philosophy, Religious Sciences, Mission Theology, and of course, Social and Cultural Anthropology , his passion. He was co-founder of the Diocesan Center for Social Pastoral (CEDIPAS) in the diocese of Oruro, a work that he directed for almost 20 years. 

This last February 8, 2023, through Chamber Resolution No. 010/2022-2023, the Chamber of Senators of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly of Bolivia, has granted Brother Gilberto Pauwels, OMI, the recognition “Democracy Award – Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal”, for his activity in defense of democracy and social struggle. 

“This recognition that Brother Gilberto receives is for his fight in favor of democracy during the times of the dictatorship that Bolivia lived, for this reason he has the nomination of President for life of the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights in Oruro”, he points out to us . Julián Arias, a Bolivian theologian who works at CEPA.

It should be remembered that in 2010 he received from former President Evo Morales the “Sebastián Pagador” award in the First Degree National Shield, for his service to the development, prestige and progress of the Department of Oruro.

For the BOLPER General Delegation, the testimony of Gilberto Pauwels, of his being an Oblate Brother, is an encouragement for the whole Church, because it makes present the evangelical value of fraternal relationships of equality, in the face of the temptation to dominate, to seek the best place or of exercising authority as power.on February 21, 2023Send by e-mailwrite a blogShare to TwitterShare with FacebookShare on PinterestTags: #BOLPER #OblateVoices #Oblatos , #OMI , BOLPER , CEPA , INTEGRAL ECOLOGY , indigenous , INTERCULTURALITY , LAUDATO SI , LEADERSHIP , MissionariesLocation: 2V9F+X2X, Av. España, Oruro, Bolivia