Colombian bishops condemn hostage killings
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.- Bishops in Columbia condemned the Nov. 26 killings of four hostages who were held for over ten years by the rebel group FARC.

“We are grieved by the drama that these brothers of ours and their families have had to live through all these years,” the bishops said in a Nov. 27 statement.

“We are grieved by the manner in which the hope of them returning to their homes, alive and safe, was shattered.”

Colombian officials confirmed the deaths of Libio Martinez, Elkin Hernandez Rivas, Edgar Yesid Duarte Valero and Alvaro Moreno on Sunday after a failed military rescue operation.

The only survivor, Sergeant Luis Alberto Erazo, said the rebels told the kidnap victims that in the event of a confrontation with the Colombian military, they should walk forward together and would be released. Erazo ignored the command and fled. Hiding nearby, he watched as the other four hostages were killed by the rebels.

Bishops in Colombia said the country is facing the “cruel reality of human beings whose dignity has been damaged by the violation of their fundamental rights and whose lives have been mercilessly cut off.”

“In response to this fact, Colombians must demand that respect for persons and for human life be always the central objective of all of society’s activity, that murder or violence in any form never be justified for any reason, that the humanitarian values and principles sacrificed so often amidst confrontation be respected,” the bishops stated.

They reiterated the Church’s commitment to assist the victim's families and offered their prayers that God would grant them “comfort and companionship in this time of so much sorrow.”

“We will continue to tirelessly work for the ideal of a society at peace, in which life is respected, the dignity of each person is fully recognized, freedom is a central value and justice and social equity direct the whole of society,” the bishops said.

“We invite all Colombians to not lose hope, to look to the future with the certainty that love and justice are stronger than anything intended to destroy our society.”

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January 25, 2015

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