Quito (Agenzia Fides) - The public phase of dialogue between the Colombian government and the guerrilla group ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) opened yesterday, on February 7, in the capital of Ecuador, Quito.
The Bishop of the Diocese of Tibu, His Exc. Mgr. Omar Sanchez Cubillos, member of the Colombian Bishops delegation, also participated in the meeting.
As informs the note sent to Fides by the Episcopal Conference, more than 300 days (March last year) have gone by since the representatives of the national government and ELN signed an initial agreement for dialogues in order to structure this work. At the moment the two sides have completed their proposals, and these also include an explicit request to the Church to be present at the trial that begins now.
It was mainly ELN that requested the participation of the Church. According to information provided by Mgr. Omar Sanchez, after a thorough reflection and consultation with the national government, the Bishops considered it appropriate to accept this invitation in order to accompany "a process that is helpful to many people of our territories, in which ELN is present".
The note recalls that the Bishops of the Diocese of Arauca, Quibdo, Istmina and Cali, will be present as facilitators and to offer their advice when requested. The Colombian Catholic Church has long expressed a desire to close every armed conflict in the country with every guerrilla group. In the Message of the 101st Plenary Assembly of Bishops of Colombia, 8 July 2016, it is clearly written that ELN guerrillas are called to "interpret the desire for peace of all Colombians, to open the doors to dialogue and to building a country with social justice ensured by political participation and not by weapons". (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 08/02/2017)