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Colombian bishop battling cancer and seeking peace with rebels

.- For a long time Bishop German Garcia Isaza of Apartado, Colombia, has been battling against two very powerful enemies: lymphatic cancer and the internal conflict in Colombia.

In a report published in the newspaper “El Tiempo,” Bishop Garcia acknowledged he is suffering from the terrible disease but he said it has not limited his work as the Catholic Church’s envoy, together with Bishop Julio Cesar Vidal of Monteria and Fr. Leonidas Moreno, in discussions between the Government and rebel leaders.

His work for peace entails “a series of trips from Apartado to Monteria and to Santa Fe de Ralito, which he has completed without incident, and he is optimistic now that negotiations are underway.”  In the meantime, his illness requires him to “spend three weeks in a room at the Clinic of the Americas in Medellin, where he receives chemotherapy.”

“Yes, I do have lymphatic cancer, but I have quietly accepted it,” said the 67 year-old bishop, adding that “during treatment I try to encourage other patients so that they do the same.  I tell them the first life we receive is from mother and father.  It’s like an ice cream cone, delicious, but soon it’s gone, like it or not.  The other life, that of Baptism, does not end.  It is nourished by the Body and Blood of the Lord, and with prayer.”

“My life has been an exciting adventure, with good things and bad.  I had a difficult period when I was Apostolic Prefect in Tierradentro, where I had a confrontation with guerrilla soldiers who tried to attack me, and since that didn’t work they killed some of my friends and catechism teachers.  That was very hard.  It was the first and only time in my life I felt the temptation to hate.  Fortunately God got me out of that situation,” the bishop recalled.

Bishop Garcia is convinced that he will see peace come to Colombia.  “This beginning of negotiations is going to end successfully,” he said.

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