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Secretary General and other Christian leaders unite against “spiral of violence” in Colombia

Posted on: May 20, 2021 11:53 AM
Demonstrators take part in a protest in Bogota, Colombia, yesterday (Wednesday) demanding government action to tackle poverty, police violence and inequalities in healthcare and education systems, in Bogota, Colombia
Photo Credit: Luisa Gonzalez / Reuters

International group of church leaders join forces in ecumenical effort to urge President Iván Duque Marquéz to end violence in Colombia.

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, is one of 10 Christian leaders from different denominations who have joined forces to call on the President of Colombia to end the spiral of violence in the country. They have signed a joint calling on President Iván Duque Marquéz to stop the spiral of violence that is doing terrible harm to the civilian population in Colombia.

“While we acknowledge that the government is dealing with a very complex situation, we believe the focus now must not be on repressing popular protests, but rather to listen to the people’s voices with empathy and without resorting to violence, and to begin to seriously address the root causes of the mass mobilisation of the Colombian people,” the church leaders say in their letter.

Colombia has now entered a third week of national protests. More than 40 people have been killed, hundreds have gone missing, and thousands have been injured as a result of the security response.

“We believe that as head of government you will call the Colombian authorities to remember and fulfil their primary responsibility which is the protection of the Colombian people,” the letter says. “We pray that you will resist and reject the calls for more violence and greater use of force against activists.”

The signatories added that they will continue to monitor the situation in Colombia closely and with great concern, praying for a just and peaceful resolution to the current crisis, and remain committed to supporting dialogue between the different stakeholders as the only path to such a resolution.

They end the letter by saying: “we look forward to your response, and wish you grace and peace in the fulfilment of your responsibilities.”

In addition to Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearpn, the letter was signed by Dr Ioan Sauca, Acting General Secretary of the World Council of Churches; Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, General secretary and CEO of the ACT Alliance; Chris Ferguson, General secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches; Dr Martin Junge, General secretary of the Lutheran World Federation; Bishop Ivan M Abrahams, General secretary of the World Methodist Council; Monsignor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte OFM, President of the Latin American Episcopal Council; Monsignor Jorge Eduardo Lozano, General secretary of the Latin American Episcopal Council; and Philip Lee, General secretary of the World Association for Christian Communication.

Dr Idowu-Fearon signed the letter after consulting with the Anglican Bishop of Colombia, Bishop Francisco José Duque, and leaders in the US-based Episcopal Church, which the diocese is part of.

Bishop Francisco has issued his own statement on the situation in the country, saying that his diocese “expresses in a public and categorical way its solidarity with the suffering of the Colombian people and raises its voice of protest against all forms of abuse and all signs of death that hang over the most vulnerable of our country, especially in these times of social and health crisis.”

Bishop Francisco said: “Our being as baptised moves us in a prophetic spirit, according to the teaching of Jesus, the Christ, to put ourselves on the side of the oppressed and violated, to demand the peace and justice necessary for a dignified and harmonious life.

“We demand of our leaders that the necessary actions be taken and conducive to the reestablishment of harmonious relations in the national territory; We urge you to comply with the mandate placed on your shoulders, with full justice and in accordance with the Constitution and Human Rights, to respect life, integrity and the right to protest, guaranteeing the safety and protection of each and every one who expresses their just claims.

“In the same way, we express our willingness to serve and declare our absolute availability to contribute to the country and to the citizens who need it most, wherever we are called to do good.” 

  • The church leaders’ letter to President Iván Duque Marquéz can be read in English and Spanish