International Episcopal Commission Favors Negotiated Solution for Colombia

European and U.S. Bishops Visited the Country

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BOGOTA, MAY 21, 2003 ( The international delegation of Catholic bishops sent to Colombia last week concluded that a negotiated solution must be found to end the conflict lacerating the country.

Speaking to the press at the end of their visit, the bishops expressed their concern over the high levels of violence in the country.

Archbishop Paul Jozef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum,’ head of the delegation, said that «we have seen that above all the Colombian people want peace and lament that they are involved in a war which they consider foreign to themselves.»

Bishop José Sánchez González of Siguenza-Guadalajara, Spain, another member of the delegation, said that the visiting bishops were «surprised, undoubtedly, by the deterioration of some fundamental values.»

«We consider Colombia to be an educated and very Christian country, but there are values, such as life, which have been lost. There are many, too many, dead and kidnapped. It pains us enormously,» the bishop said, who praised «the work that the Church is doing in the most isolated places, at times at the risk of lives.»

During their stay in Colombia, the delegation met with representatives of the episcopal conference; Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez; Michael Fruling, U.N. Human Rights representative in Colombia, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

On Saturday, May 17, the bishops celebrated Mass in Bojaya in memory of the victims of the massacre in the church of Bella Vista last year.

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