AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Fr. Narváez: "Patience and forgiveness are needed for lasting peace"

Thursday, 25 October 2018 forgiveness   wars   civil society   peace   reconciliation  

Bogotà (Agenzia Fides) - "It is erroneously believed that forgiveness is only a religious or spiritual resource, but forgiveness is also a political virtue". With this vision, the Foundation for Reconciliation (FR), founded and chaired by Colombian priest Fr. Leonel Narváez, Consolata Missionary, offers an important contribution to the peace process in Colombia and to the reconstruction of the social fabric in 21 countries.
In a dialogue with Agenzia Fides, Father Narváez explains that the proposal of the "civic culture of forgiveness" is establishing itself in Colombian society. "We are trying to reach various fields with this culture", he says.
In the framework of restorative justice, the Foundation has developed four programs with which it reaches the areas most affected by the conflict, both rural and urban, working alongside other civil and religious organizations. According to the religious, "true justice is that which rebuilds, and not the one that eliminates or punishes. In this sense, we are convinced that forgiveness is and will be recognized as a human right, both for those who offend and for the offended".
Forgiveness, for the Foundation, is "a process of introspection in which the victim gives a new meaning to the memory of an offense and recovers personal security; at the same time it understands how to handle pain, without resentment or revenge". Forgiveness, says the missionary, has two sisters: justice that restores and compassion that strengthens. In fact, the priest concludes, "forgiveness is the most powerful medicine that a person can offer to himself: without forgiveness, the victim remains a victim forever". On this basis, victims seek reconciliation with the aggressor, according to a gradual methodology, experimented by the Foundation.
On the situation of his country, Fr. Leonel is optimistic: "The situation is complex, but we are in the delicate phase of post-conflict". According to international experience, he notes, "it takes three to five years to reach a situation of normality" and 15 years on average for the full application of peace agreements. "Currently there are still criticisms related to the justice system, in this phase of transition, but we are in a moment of progressive stabilization: we will find peace, calmly", he hopes. "Patience" is the watchword." People tend to think, that the day after the signing of peace, everything is in order, but peace is to be built. Peace is like a baby, who at the beginning is very fragile, then grows and strengthens itself". (SM) (Agenzia Fides, 25/10/2018)