Kidnapping a Grave Offense, Says CELAM President

Aims to Continue Pastoral Work in the Wake of His Ordeal

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BOGOTA, Colombia, NOV. 25, 2002 ( Bishop Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal has strong words about the act of kidnapping, following his own recent captivity.

“No one has the right to deprive another person of their liberty, or to lay hands on anyone anywhere, under any circumstance, or for any reason,” said the president of the Latin American bishops’ council (CELAM).

He was kidnapped along with the parish priest of Pacho, Father Desiderio Orjuela, by FARC rebels on Nov. 11 in the department of Cundinamarca. The victims were released after four days, thanks to an operation involving some 500 people, including military men, police officers and civilians.

In statements to the missionary agency Fides, Bishop Jiménez Carvajal wished to convey his appreciation to the many people who expressed their solidarity.

Following his release, “I must continue with the duties that are proper to a bishop: to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to proclaim a message of peace, of encouragement and hope to so many people who suffer, to remain by the side of those who are in danger […], to always be close to the community,” he said.

“The problems of our Colombian homeland are very great, in every sense,” stressed the bishop, who oversees the Zipaquira Diocese. “We have very difficult social problems, such as poverty. However, without any doubt the greatest problem is that of violence.”

Colombia has endured a 40-year insurgent campaign to overthrow the government. That campaign escalated during the 1990s.

“I would like to refer, in particular, to the type of violence of which I was a victim, when I was deprived of my liberty, kidnapped, and kept for four or five days,” Bishop Jiménez Carvajal said. “This situation is one of the ones that most offends a human being.”

“What happened to me, has also happened […] to thousands of Colombians,” he continued. “The fact that I was released thanks to the professionalism of the Colombian armed forces, offers hope to our country. May the hour soon arrive when no one is ever kidnapped again for any reason.”

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