Prepared for months with the parishes and families of the city and its surroundings, a Latin American young adult meeting was held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, from October 10-14, 2007. It brought together 7000 participants from the different regions of Bolivia, from all the countries of Latin America and from several European countries. This “Letter from Cochabamba” for the year 2008 was first distributed during the European meeting in Geneva at the end of December 2007.
Reconciliation, a fire
Together in Bolivia with young people from all the countries of Latin America, we have been asking ourselves: what paths of hope can we open today?
The Bolivian people, with their enormous social and ethnic diversity, are trying to leave conflicts behind and head towards greater justice and peace.
In many places on earth, current tensions arise from the still festering wounds of history. Where can healing be found at a time when a feeling of powerlessness in the face of injustices is gaining ground?
The young people meeting in Cochabamba have shown that diversity, instead of leading inevitably to divisions or rivalries, bears within it the promise of mutual enrichment and joy. 
In Bolivia, we have discovered courageous believers expressing by the whole of their lives the Gospel’s call to struggle with a reconciled heart.
At the springs of reconciliation
We draw the energies needed to struggle with a reconciled heart from a personal communion with the living God. Without an inner life, we could not fully carry out our resolve. In God we find joy; we find hope for a life lived to the full.
Has not God himself taken the first step towards us? By the coming of Jesus, God commits himself to a true exchange with every human being. While remaining beyond anything we can understand, God becomes someone very close.
Out of love, God wanted to share our existence. He became a human being. Still more: by giving his life on the cross, Jesus chose the last place.  Taking upon himself what separates us from God, he assumes our own being and all humanity.  He communicates his own life to us in return.  In that way the whole of creation already begins to be transfigured. 
This exchange with God becomes real for us in prayer: by his Holy Spirit, God comes to dwell within us. By his word and by the sacraments, Christ gives himself to us. In return, we can surrender everything to him. 
Is this not how Christ brought fire on the earth, that fire that is already burning within us?
Widening our friendship to include all
We cannot hold the fire of reconciliation in. It sheds light on a road where we are led to be peacemakers both close at hand and far away. 
If we realize what God is doing for us, our mutual relations will be transformed by it. We will be capable of an authentic communion with others, an exchange of life in which we give and receive.
The Gospel invites us to take the first step towards others, with no assurance in advance that they will respond.
In some situations, particularly in broken relationships, reconciliation can seem unattainable. We should then be aware that a desire for reconciliation is already the beginning of it. Christ takes upon himself what seems to lead nowhere and we can entrust to him all that needs healing. That prepares us to seize the opportunities that arise and to take a step, however small, towards easing tensions.
Reconciliation can transform our societies in depth. The Spirit of the risen Christ renews the face of the earth. Let us allow this dynamism of the resurrection to propel us forward! Let us not be discouraged by the complexity of the problems we face. Let us not forget that we can begin with very little. 
The communion of the Church supports us; it is a place of friendship for all.  “For us the Church is like a mother who listens to her children. She welcomes; she comforts.”  These words of a young Latin American challenge us: will we find ways to let God’s compassion shine through us?
In situations of conflict, will we find ways of listening to others? So many separations would be less painful then.  Let us strive to put ourselves in the place of others.
Will we find ways of ensuring a fairer sharing of resources? Let us dare to revise our life-style in the direction of greater simplicity, solidarity with the destitute and increased care for Creation.
Will we be close to those who are poorer than we are? By sharing with them, an exchange of life occurs: they lead us to be generous and so bring us out of ourselves. Still more, their indigence helps us to accept our own vulnerability. By this commitment we will contribute to having the dignity of every human being respected.
Will we go to the point of forgiving? Is there any other way to interrupt the chain of ongoing humiliation?  It is not a matter of forgetting a painful past, or of being blind to present-day situations of injustice. The Gospel calls us to go beyond the memory of wounds by forgiving, and even to rise above our expectation of getting something in return. In this way we find the freedom of the children of God.
Yes, we want to struggle with a reconciled heart, to be passionate seekers for communion, able to widen our friendship to include all.