AMERICA/VENEZUELA - Colombia-Ecuador conflict: Bishops ask for prayer and sacrifice for peace, because “nothing positive and lasting can be established with violence, hate, and war”

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Caracas (Agenzia Fides) - “Nothing positive and lasting can be established with violence, hate, and war,” say Venezuelan Bishops in their Message of March 5, issued amidst the tension and uncertainty that has enveloped the country since the complex crisis between Colombia and Ecuador, and the Colombian government and Venezuela, arose. The Bishops, aware of their mission, as Pastors, of promoting true peace, have expressed their profound sorrow at “the situation that has been created between our two sister-nations, and show their concern that the situation “could wound the traditional climate of peaceful co-existence and provoke a violent conflict between peoples, who through their common history and because of the strong spiritual and cultural ties that they share, are called instead to a joining of forces, in progress and enrichment, towards a just and humane future for all.”
“The search for peace is a fundamental duty for all responsible governments,” the Message continued, “and at the same time, an unavoidable necessity for the life and integral development of our people.” The Bishops, therefore, exhort the national government to “preserve peace on either side of the Venezuelan borders, as well as protect our sovereignty with moderation and serenity in the face of the diverse and complex circumstances of the current crisis.”
They also call to mind the fact that the external peace of a nation is based
“on mutual respect of territorial sovereignty, on compliance with international agreements and treaties, and on recognized diplomatic requests for dialogue and resolution to potential conflicts.” Therefore, they encourage that all “negotiation groups and mediators that are recognized and accepted by the three nations in question” take action “in order to arrive at a prompt reestablishment of regular diplomatic dialogue among our governments.”
As well, the Prelates recalled the importance of peace, not only on an external level, but also internally. Internal peace, they said, is based on “compliance with the Constitution and the laws, in mutual respect among people and among the institutions of our society.” That is why they deplore “the recent and shameful act of the siege on the Archbishop’s Palace in Caracas, by groups that had publicly manifest their support for the government, especially considering the passivity observed in the reaction of public law-enforcement authorities.” And at the same time, they offer their solidarity with the Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa, with his Auxiliary Bishops, and with all the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese, as well as Bishop Ramón Linares of Barinas, who has also recently suffered attacks (ver Fides 28/2/2008).
The Bishops conclude their Message with an invitation to all the faithful to take advantage of this time of Lent by offering their prayers and sacrifices, becoming peacemakers, and bringing reconciliation to their families, communities, and work places. As well, they have asked that all who can attend the Sunday Mass, “to ask the Good Shepherd to protect our people from the danger of war, and that He open wide the path that leads to peace in Venezuela and among all our sister-nations of Latin America.”
In Colombia, Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz, Archbishop of Bogota, is promoting an event that will take place on March 7. At noon, in the Churches or wherever people are, they can stop and pray the Our Father or a prayer for peace in Colombia, so that “the Lord may illumine our governors and grant us the immense gift of peace.”
The Organization of American States (OAS), with headquarters in Washington, D.C., yesterday approved a resolution that admits, however does not condemn, the fact that Bogota violated the sovereignty of its neighboring country, in the bombing of a rebel FARC station in a border zone. The resolution establishes the creation of a diplomatic mission lead by the Organization’s Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza, and a maximum of 4 ambassadors. There has also been a regional meeting of Ministers of the Exterior planned for March 17. The Minister for Exterior Relations in Ecuador, Maria Isabel Salvador, said that the resolution was “a first step” in the process, however, it will not be enough to reestablish diplomatic relations with Colombia or for the immediate removal troops from the borders with this country.
The European Union has shown its concern for the growing tension and for the deployment of armed forces among the three countries, and has asked that all implicated parties seek a political solution through dialogue. (RG) (Agenzia Fides 6/3/2008; righe 59, parole 731)