Surrounded by security and stopped by some parishioners who asked for a photo, the new president of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou and part of his cabinet walked this Monday in the middle aisle of Montevideo’s Cathedral, to an interfaith ceremony held to pray for the new government.
It is the first time in 30 years that a change of command prayer is held in a country whose Constitution clearly establishes the separation between the state and the church and whose last governments (the last 3 of a left-wing coalition) have distanced themselves from any religious activity The last one was organized at the request of the president's father, former president Luis Lacalle Herrera, when he assumed in 1990.
Before entering the Cathedral, the center-right president clarified that all initiatives in favor of the nation and the country are welcome, the religious, the laity, all.
The call to “witness an inter-religious prayer for the country”, according to an official statement, was made by the Archbishop of Montevideo, Cardinal Daniel Sturla, and the Episcopal Conference of Uruguay, together with representatives of the Jewish Collectivity and diverse Christian churches.
CATEDRAL DE MONTEVIDEO: El cardenal Sturla celebra una misa interreligiosa por el nuevo gobierno. El presidente de la República, Luis Lacalle Pou, se hizo presente en la Catedral e indicó que todas las iniciativas a favor de la nación y del país son bienvenidas. pic.twitter.com/h5wLZ8TkJO— Telenoche (@TelenocheUy) March 2, 2020
Inside the Cathedral, various representatives of Christian and Jewish collectivities were waiting for the new president, such as the president of the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church, Arturo Fajardo; Rabbis Max Godet and Daniel Dolinsky, from the Jewish Community and Pedro Lapadjian for the evangelical churches, among others.
Sturla addressed the press and said they invoked God to have a freer and juster society.
At the end of the sentence, the president stressed that all initiatives that promote justice are welcome, that is, give a boost to those who have less and the most helpless.
He said that the Constitution clearly establishes the separation between the state and the church, but considered that laicity is not having an official religion and is not equivalent to secularism.
Lacalle Pou has participated in other occasions in religious celebrations and in a meeting in the temple of Freemasonry.
On the other hand, the Methodist Church rejected the invitation to the ceremony by the new rulers due to constitutional laicity. There is no history of religious celebrations of this kind. It can mean that current is hierarchized over others, said Pastor Raul Sosa, before the mass.