AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Day of prayer for reconciliation and peace: peace is possible, it is necessary, it is everyone's responsibility

Wednesday, 3 May 2023 reconciliation   peace   armed groups   episcopal conferences   prayer   pope francis  


Bogota (Agenzia Fides) - Today, May 3, in Colombia and other Spanish speaking countries (such as Spain, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Argentina and Venezuela) the Feast of the Holy Cross (La Fiesta de las Cruces or Cruz de Mayo) is celebrated. In Colombia this liturgical feast has been associated with the National Day of Prayer for reconciliation and peace in the country since 2018.
During Pope Francis' visit to the Latin American country, from 6 to 11 September 2017, which had the theme "Let's take the first step", the Bishop of Rome emphasized in several speeches, the importance of contributing to peace-building, taking spiritual aspects into account in order to promote forgiveness and reconciliation despite the wounds of decades of conflict with all its social, cultural, economic and political consequences.
In his video message for the visit, Pope Francis explained: "Taking the first step encourages us to go out to meet the other, to reach out our hand and to exchange a sign of peace. Peace is what Colombia is looking for and has long been working to achieve. A stable, lasting peace, so that we can see and treat each other as brothers and sisters, not as enemies…
The world today needs counsellors of peace and dialogue. The Church is also called to this task, to promote reconciliation with the Lord and with our brothers and sisters, but also reconciliation with the environment, which is a creation of God and which we are exploiting in uncivilized way".
The Archbishop of Bogotá and President of the Bishops' Conference of Colombia, Luis José Rueda Aparicio, proposed three concrete ways of celebrating this day: "First, place the cross in a visible place in your home, as if to say that your home, your family, is a place and school of true reconciliation in Jesus Christ Second: Make gestures of reconciliation to the people in your work and study environment... Third: On May 3rd, let us pray that Colombia will find ways of reconciliation and that all humanity encounters Jesus Christ, who reconciles us to the Father and makes us instruments of reconciliation, peace and new life".
On the Day of Reconciliation, the Bishops' Conference, in cooperation with the National Secretariat for Social Pastoral Care (SNPS), provides guidelines for peace and reconciliation work in the Colombian dioceses and parishes. The document is divided into different subject groups: conceptual framework for reconciliation and peace, importance and scope of pastoral work for reconciliation and peace, church criteria for building peace, pedagogy and criteria for peace building.
"Peace is possible," it concludes, recalling that steps have already been taken in this direction.
"It is necessary", the Bishops emphasize, "because a war-weary society demands it. It is the responsibility of everyone, since it is a collective work which requires acknowledging the mistakes of the past and making concrete commitments in the present. The Church in Colombia resolutely and courageously renews her option for reconciliation and peace, trusting in the power of the Spirit, the values of the Gospel and the goodness of the Colombian people". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 3/5/2023)