By Francesca Merlo
The Bishops of Colombia presented their seven main points of focus in a message released at a Press Conference at the end of their 109th Plenary Assembly. These are: to defend and respect life; the need for social dialogue, the realisation of a common project for the country; to effectively support peace processes; to recognise the "very serious evil" of drug trafficking and its human, social, political and economic consequences; to welcome migrants, "our brothers"; and to promote integral ecology.
The Message reads that faced with the decisive, complex and worrying historical moment that the country is experiencing, “it is necessary to adopt an attitude of listening, reflection, dialogue, unity and commitment in order to transform every difficulty into an opportunity”.
Colombia is currently facing a huge influx of refugees arriving from neighbouring Venezuela. In recent months, people have also taken to the streets to protest the policies of President Iván Duque's administration, including the alleged support of unpopular economic plans and the perceived lack of government action to counter killings of human rights activists and rein in corruption.
The Church of Colombia, reads the document, insists on “the defence and respect for life”. The Bishops ask to put an end "to the wave" of violence that "burdens people and communities", because "nothing is achieved neither with weapons nor with the imposition of ideas".
The Bishops believe that, through dialogue, the Church can “identify the needs of the population and strengthen relations between the state and civil society”.
They also stress the importance of peace processes and the need to "pay particular attention to the victims and those who have abandoned their weapons and are now seeking complete social reintegration". It is necessary to “keep the door of dialogue open and to fight tirelessly for reconciliation", reads the message.
Exploitation and trafficking
The Bishops note that an equal amount of effort is required in order to defeat drug trafficking and all activities related to it and to stop the exploitation of migrants as an "inhuman and unjust" act.
Our Common Home
Finally, with regard to integral ecology, the Bishops highlight "the serious and irreparable damage caused to the work that God has entrusted to man so that it might be a common home". Referring to the October Synod on the Pan-Amazonian region, the Bishops conclude by saying "we must make concrete and visible commitments to this 'biological heart of the planet' and the communities that inhabit it, especially the indigenous peoples.