AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The Church accompanies the peace talks with ELN with impartiality and discretion

Thursday, 17 November 2016 politics   bishops   armed groups  

Bogota (Agenzia Fides) - The Colombian government, through the Commission created ad hoc to negotiate with the ELN (National Liberation Army), met the Bishops in charge of accompanying the process of dialogue with this guerrilla group, yesterday, 16 November. The head of the negotiating group of the Colombian government, Juan Camilo Restrepo, then informed on the outcome of the meeting.
The first point concerned the choice of Quito, Ecuador's capital, as the venue of the dialogue. The second point was the gratitude on behalf of the government to the Catholic Church for its availability to cooperate.
"The Colombian Bishops' Conference appointed a group of Bishops, who have the mission of being impartial helpers between the two parties which will sit at the table in Quito", said Camilo Restrepo.
For his part, the President of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, His Exc. Mgr. Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga, said that the role of the Catholic Church in the talks with ELN will not be of mediation but simply to accompany: "We have much studied the type of the presence of Bishops appointed for the dialogues. This presence was requested by ELN with the approval of the government (...). During the meeting we discussed the aid of the Church, which is a discreet presence at the table in Quito", said Mgr. Castro Quiroga after the meeting.
In early October, the most important ELN leader had assured that the only aim of this group is to achieve peace in Colombia, and had established a series of meetings with the government to decide "how" and "when", with the condition to hold non-public meetings before. Then, together with the Colombian government, they informed of the phase of public dialogue at the end of October, with the cooperation of institutions of the public and political life of Colombia, including the Catholic Church, which had always declared its availability to such participation (see Fides 12/10/2016 and 25/10/2016). In the coming days the meeting agenda to open the table of dialogue in Quito will be made public. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 17/11/2016)