Colombian Bishops Call for End to Kidnappings

Following Release of Prelate and Priest

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BOGOTA, Colombia, NOV. 17, 2002 ( Following the abduction and release of Bishop Jorge Enrique Jiménez and Father Desiderio Orjuela, Colombian bishops published a message calling for an end to the «atrocious crime» of kidnapping afflicting the country.

Bishop Jiménez, president of the Latin American bishops’ council (CELAM) and Father Orjuela, a parish priest, were released Friday after being held captive almost five days by guerrillas of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC), according to army sources.

«At the same time we express our gratitude, we pray that the country will soon hear of an agreement that will put an end to the kidnappings of so many Colombians,» the bishops’ message says.

The document, signed by Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz, archbishop of Bogota and president of the bishops’ conference, and by Bishop Fabian Marulanda López, secretary-general of the episcopate, states that «Colombia registers an average of eight kidnappings a day, which means that someone is kidnapped every three hours.»

«The number of kidnappings per year exceeded 1,000 in 1990; in 1998, it increased to 2,000; today, the official number of Colombians deprived of freedom in this way is 2,492,» the document, dated Nov. 15, states.

«The crime rate has been increasing progressively,» it adds. «Now, it is the people who have broken the silence and raised their voices to say: No more!

«Kidnapping is a detestable act, an atrocious crime, an offense that violates such fundamental rights as liberty, life and the dignity and security of the human person. This offense cannot be justified by any ideology, and must be rejected and condemned clearly and energetically.»

Finally, the episcopal document «reaffirms the will» of the Church «to continue to work in favor of peace, fostering dialogue and the rapprochement of all sides involved in the conflict.»

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