Church in Colombia Pleads for Priest's Release

BOGOTA, Colombia, APRIL 19, 2004 ( The Catholic Church in Colombia has demanded the immediate release of a priest kidnapped March 15 by guerrillas.

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Father César Darío Peña García, 42, is a pastor in the village of Raudal, in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Osos, in the northwest. He was kidnapped by members of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC).

In a statement issued last Thursday, the dioceses of the Antioquia Choco region called for the priest’s release.

“With much hope and animated by faith, we are eager for the prompt return of Father César Darío Peña and of all the persons who are kidnapped today in our country,” the statement said in part.

During Holy Week, the Church called for the finalizing of a humanitarian agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC, which would lead to the release of hundreds of captives held by guerrillas. In recent weeks, several priests have reported death threats by FARC guerrillas.

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