Colombian Bishops Issue a Message of Hope to Troubled Regions

Call for Respect for Life of Public Officials

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MEDELLIN, Colombia, JULY 1, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Mayors and councilmen in numerous municipalities have been threatened with violence by rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), demanding that they give up their jobs.

Now, the bishops of Antioquia and Choco have responded with a message of “Hope, Reconciliation and Peace,” to express their closeness to the people who are suffering from this situation.

The nation has been gripped for decades by an insurgent campaign aimed at toppling the government. Part of the violence is funded by drug traffickers. In recent months an archbishop and two priests have been murdered.

Kidnappings, demands for resignation from public posts, violent deaths and the destruction of the infrastructure have reduced departments like Antioquia to a “lamentable” state, the episcopal message of June 24 states, adding that “fear has a very destructive effect at the personal and communal level.”

The bishops tried to encourage the people of the region, while they also appealed to all the faithful of the Church to unite in solidarity.

The episcopal message reminds the faithful of the Word of God, and urges them to act “in fidelity to the Lord and to the legitimate aspirations of our brothers. Let us sustain ourselves in faith, hope and love for one another.”

The bishops also express their support for the legitimate and democratically elected government officials of the departments and municipalities, and urge that their lives and liberty be respected “in the exercise of their duties.”

The prelates also appeal for “the prompt return of the kidnapped to the heart of their families and to the work they carry out in favor of their communities.”

The bishops call the insurgents to “conversion and to joint efforts to construct a culture of coexistence in freedom and respect.”

“We are in the midst of our communities as bearers if the Gospel of reconciliation and mercy. … We are always willing to mediate in favor of an embrace of peace,” the bishops conclude.

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