Killing of Priests No Longer Seen as Big News in Colombia

So Says Magazine of Pontifical Institute

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ROME, SEPT. 27, 2002 ( The killing of priests in Colombia no longer makes big news in that country, says Mondo e Missione, the publication of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

The latest killing was last Friday. Father José Luis Arroyave Restrepo, a mediator in the slum areas of Medellin, was shot while sitting in a van.

Archbishop Isaías Duarte of Cali was murdered on March 16. On April 6, Father Juan Ramón Nuñez Palacios was murdered while distributing Communion in a church in La Argentina. Members of the Teofilo Forero sector of the rebel Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) were linked to that killing.

The same day, guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) kidnapped Father Saulo Carreño and Father Luis Teodore Gonzáles, parish priests of Saravena and Arauquita, while they tried to obtain the release of some kidnapped politicians.

Father Gersaín Paz, director of the Archdiocese of Cali’s press office, was forced to leave Colombia on April 8 due to repeated death threats.

On April 21, FARC members temporarily kidnapped a number of bishops and priests during a peace march near Medellin.

On May 2, in an event that drew relatively little press coverage, 118 people, including more than 40 children, were burned to death by a FARC bomb in the church of Boyaca, in the department of El Choco.

An army report says 26 Catholic religious have been killed since 1998. Of these, 11 were killed by the FARC, two by the ELN, one by paramilitary men, and 12 by unknown individuals, the army contends.

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