.- The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Ruben Salazar, said this week the bishops would “stay out” of the process of the release of six hostages promised by the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) if the rebel group is opposed to their involvement.
On Monday, before leaving for the United States, President Alvaro Uribe suggested that the international representative, which the rebels were demanding, could be named by Pope Benedict XVI or by the Colombian bishops.
But Bishop Salazar noted that “the FARC doesn’t see us as the most ideal mediators.” “They do not welcome the intervention of the Catholic Church. I don’t know what the role of the Church could be in this task of liberation,” he added.
Marxists Senator Piedad Cordoba, whom the FARC has chosen to be its mediator and is often the group’s spokesperson, said on Wednesday the rebel group would not accept the presence of a Vatican delegation in the process.
“The FARC is totally against that idea, as it does not trust the Catholic Church. At this time that is an obstacle that obviously is going to slow the process (of liberation) down a little,” she told the newspaper El Espectador.
Bishop Salazar said that although the Bishops are willing to offer their assistance, “We do not want to obstruct anything; we only want the hostages to be released. If we become an obstacle, we will step aside because we are not seeking to be the protagonists.”