Bellavista (Fides Service) – A delegation of European and American visited Colombia from 12 to 19 May, at the initiative of Misereor the aid organisation of the German Catholic Bishops under the auspices of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. Visiting a number of cities the Bishops met representatives of the local Church (bishops, priests, religious, parishes, pastoral delegates, associations and movements), as well as civil and political leaders (President, Vice President, Members of Parliament, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Commission of National Reconciliation). In a statement the visiting Bishops express appreciation for the “the incommensurable service of the Church at all levels, from the clergy to diocesan and parish organisations, to assist the people, especially those suffering the consequences of poverty, injustice, violence and insecurity”. The delegation says “signs of this situazione are violent death and deep wounds, orphans and widows who have lost their dear ones, fear, uprooting, lack of protection for those forced to leave their homes, lack of social stability, high rate of impunity and loss of hope for many who see no end to the violence. ”.
“The people of Colombia want peace above all else, they suffer and voice their grief feeling dragged into a war which is totally foreign” say the bishops who agree with a declaration made by the President of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference (29 November 2002) which affirmed that the Catholic Church in Colombia is for a negotiated solution to the armed conflict; it is autonomous and impartial in its service of the peace process and the common good; the Church and the National Reconciliation Commission maintain their commitment to work without resting for the process of building a just and lasting peace with all the sides in conflict
Echoing the words of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, the delegation says “war is a defeat for humanity” and situations of injustice must be changed “by means of honest and sincere dialogue ” which demands authentic conversion of heart and “measures aimed at the total promotion and development of individuals and peoples ”. “Besides being a duty for all, peace is a gift of God for which we must ask insistently”, therefore the programme of the visit included frequent prayer for peace and the celebration of the Eucharist in the different communities. “Now this commitment will be an important point of our commitment with the people and the Colombian Church ” affirms the statement.
Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, President of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, in a message emphasized the role of the Colombian Church in the social field and its work to promote reconciliation through evangelisation: “The Church wants all men and women to be healed and saved through an encounter with Christ as the Holy Father has said. This is true also in this country, to destroy the seeds of hatred that lie in the heart of every man”. (R.Z.) (Fides Service 26/5/2003; lines37; words 507)