.- Bishop Jairo Jaramillo Monsalve of Santa Rosa de Osos, Colombia, is calling on the leaders of FARC (the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia)—one of the main rebel militias in the country’s ongoing civil conflict—to release Fr. Cesar Dario Peña Garcia, who was kidnapped by the group on March 15.
The bishop issued a statement expressing concern that the FARC has taken Fr. Peña away from his parishioners and calling him “an exemplary priest in his actions and in his judgment in every circumstance in which he has worked; he has spent 15 years working tirelessly in rural areas.”
Bishop Jaramillo asked the FARC “to allow Fr. Cesar to continue serving his parishioners, because his silence and his absence causes much grief in me as his bishop, and in all of the priests of the dioceses, as well as in his beloved parents and family members.”
The bishop added that the Fr. Peña must surely feel “hurt very deeply that he cannot be with his community,” and his parishioners feel “their rights are violated by the forced absence of their shepherd.”
The town of Raudal, where he is pastor, is preparing to organize demonstrations for the release of Fr. Peña.
Fr. Peña was born on June 12, 1961, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1988.