AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Nuncio's visit to Chocò: increased challenge for confidence in the future, bet on peace, inter-institutional work

Thursday, 22 December 2022 social situation   human rights   armed groups   poverty   local churches  

Istmina (Agenzia Fides) - "The Church and all the institutions have been motivated to work side by side, in a spirit of true communion and participation, leading to a transformation of reality as a model of change for the whole country": this was affirmed by the dioceses of Quibdó and Istmina-Tadó, after the visit to the department of Chocó by the Apostolic Nuncio, Msgr. Luis Mariano Montemayor, accompanied by Monsignor Héctor Fabio Henao, delegate of the Episcopal Conference for relations with the National Government regarding dialogue with the ELN, and priest Rafael Castillo, director of the National Secretariat for Social Pastoral - Caritas Colombia SNPS- CC.
The Bishop of Ismina-Tadó, Monsignor Mario Alvarez Gomez, had launched "in the name of the Catholic Church of Chocó" an appeal to the ELN and the armed groups for a unilateral ceasefire, in order to celebrate Christmas in peace. The bishop recalled the sufferings of the population in this year which is coming to an end: the violence which has caused 180 homicides, the controls on people's lives imposed by the ELN, to which are added the natural disasters, the catastrophic events , corruption, poverty, in the now historic indifference of the local, departmental and national government, which still hesitates to attack the authentic roots of this situation (see Fides 18/12/2022).
The visit of the Nuncio and his companions, which took place between December 16 and 19, included a series of activities. Unfortunately, the armed strike implemented by the ELN for the central and lower area of San Juan prevented a meeting with the communities of Medio San Juan, Bajo Calima, Litoral del San Juan, Bajo Baudó and the Colombian Pacific coast. These people need to be listened to and encouraged, in their reality marked by violence, exclusion, lack of development opportunities and freedom of movement.
Archbishop Montemayor "didn't waste a moment in dialogue with public administrators, pastoral animators and leaders - reports the statement - who, with feelings of pain and shortness of breath due to the physical and emotional impact that they carry in their hearts, described a reality that must be addressed through encounter and dialogue, as well as through concrete actions that restore hope, free mobility, participation in territorial decisions and do not make them renounce, according to their cultural and ecclesial identity".
The meetings experienced during these days, continues the diocese, "have left a challenge of faith in the future, a clear and precise decision to bet on peace, a clear need to work at the inter-institutional level for the well-being of the communities. The situation of isolation and the impossibility of moving make it clear that this is a region that needs decisive measures for peace, spaces for dialogue and agreements that transform "weapons into ploughshares", territories of violence into models of peace, weaknesses into strengths".
The final part of the statement reiterates that "this meeting did not go unnoticed, it did not leave us insensitive, it did not leave us equal", but indicated the ways of valuing the common home, of universal fraternity, of the dream of a desired reality by God, which is expressed in the acceptance of a salvific presence in the person of Christ, who by assuming our human nature projects us into the divine and the transcendent, into the mystery of the Plan of Salvation. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 22/12/2022)