Colombian Bishops to Promote Peace With Papal Magisterium

Episcopate Condemns Killing of 34 Peasants

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ROME, JUNE 20, 2004 ( A group of Colombian bishops expressed to John Paul II their commitment to promote peace in their country by echoing the papal magisterium.

Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo of Medellin was the spokesman for the bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Medellin, Barranquilla, Cali, Cartagena, Manizales, Popayan and Santa Fe de Antioquia during a joint meeting with the Pope on Friday. The bishops were making their five-yearly visit to Rome.

«To be bearers of hope for Colombia commits us to be ministers of reconciliation,» Archbishop Jaramillo said. «Our response to the different conflicts the country is experiencing in the social, economic and political order cannot but echo your magisterium.»

As part of his program, Archbishop Giraldo Jaramillo offered guidelines given by John Paul II, in particular, his Message for the 2000 World Day of Peace.

«There will be peace in the measure in which the whole of humanity is able to rediscover its original vocation to be a family, in which the dignity and rights of persons — of any state, race or religion — are recognized as preceding and preeminent in respect of any difference or specificity,» the archbishop explained, quoting the Pope.

Meanwhile, in Bogota, Colombia, the bishops’ conference condemned «the act of barbarism» blamed on leftist guerrillas, in the La Gabarra municipality, near the Venezuelan border, where 34 coca pickers were killed last week.

The episcopate prayed for the dead and their families and appealed «to those raised in arms to reject violence, as these ways of proceeding go against the efforts being made for the benefit of peace,» said a report in El Catolicismo, a periodical of the Bogota Archdiocese.

Rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, executed the 34 coca pickers in cold blood. Authorities estimate that some 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) of coca have been planted in the region, profits of which generate intense conflicts between FARC and the Self-Defense Units of Colombia.

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