As Colombia marks two months of protests, and as hospitals in the country struggle to cope with surging coronavirus cases, faith leaders have come together to call for peace.
A call for dialogue, peace and national reconciliation in the context of the critical situation of social unrest in Colombia
The faith leaders who sign this statement join the call of Pope Francis on Sunday 23 May 2021 for a "serious dialogue" to find a way out of the social crisis which has been going on in Colombia since 28 April, recognising "the right to demonstrate peacefully".
We join the Church and the Colombian people at this difficult time during the demonstrations and the complex social situation that Colombia has been experiencing since 28 April, to reaffirm that peaceful protest is a right, and to reject acts of violence, wherever they may come from, human rights violations, attacks on physical safety and life [or attacks on life and limb], disappearances, and the abuse of force, because “violence does not resolve anything; it produces suffering and death”.
We echo the bishops of Colombia who, on 23 May, issued a new appeal to follow the path of dialogue in seeking agreements that will enable Colombia to overcome this difficult period it is currently experiencing. “We reaffirm that dialogue is the most appropriate way to recognise what should always be affirmed and respected in society; to listen, understand and respond effectively to the demands of those who have resorted to the right of peaceful protest, and to build together the reconciliation and peace that we long for.”
We recognise the pain and poverty being experienced in Colombia and express our solidarity with all victims of violence.
Following the recommendation of the bishops of Colombia, we call for the path of dialogue to be chosen, for citizens’ demands to be listened to and for compromises to be found that contribute to reconciliation and peace.
Pope Francis said, "I pray that the beloved Colombian people may receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that through serious dialogue just solutions may be found to the many problems they are suffering from, especially those who living in greatest poverty due to the pandemic”.
✞ Werner FREISTETTER, Military Bishop, responsible for development cooperation and global church of the Austrian Bishop’s Conference, Coordination Office of the Austrian Bishop’s Conference (KOO), Austria
✞ Karl BORSCH, Auxiliary Bishop of Aachen, Germany
✞ Helmut Karl DIESER, Bishop of Aachen, Germany
✞ Felix GMÜR, Bishop of Basel, Switzerland
✞ John ARNOLD, Bishop of Salford, Chair of CAFOD, England and Wales, UK
✞ Declan LANG, Bishop of Clifton, Chair of the International Affairs Dept, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, UK
✞ Hugh GILBERT, Bishop of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
✞ John KEENAN, Bishop of Paisley, Scotland, UK
✞ Brian MCGEE, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, Scotland, UK
✞ Joseph TOAL, Bishop of Motherwell and Bishop President of SCIAF, Scotland, UK
Colombia programme officer at CAFOD, Uli Beck, responded:
“Years of unanswered demands and a pandemic that has plunged over 40 per cent of Colombians into poverty has caused the situation to reach breaking point.”
“Colombia has already seen over 50 years of terrifying conflict. A dialogue with all sectors protesting, leading to effective change, is crucial to put an end to the dreadful violence we have seen in recent months.
“People are calling for urgently needed reform and bishops have been outspoken in supporting these calls. It is fundamental to listen, understand, and efficiently find solutions to the demands of those who protest peacefully. This is the only way to build the peace we all want together.”
Notes to Editors
For further information and interviews with spokespeople, please contact: Elouise Hobbs, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile: +44 (0)7954 077426, Or, CAFOD’s 24-hour media hotline on +44 (0)7919 301 429
The full statement and signatories can be found here: https://www.cidse.org/2021/06/28/faith-leaders-call-for-dialogue-and-peace-in-colombia/
Find out more about CAFOD’s work in Colombia: https://cafod.org.uk/About-us/Where-we-work/Latin-America-Caribbean/Colombia
CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and part of Caritas International. We reach out to people living in poverty with practical help, whatever their religion or culture. Help us build a world where no one is beyond reach of the love and care they need.