.- During their 88th Plenary Assembly, the bishops of Colombia clarified that strictly pastoral dialogue with rebel groups in the country does not require permission from the government.
According to the bishops’ communications' office, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, said that “as pastors, we have the duty to dialogue with everyone.”
“We do not need permission for these strictly pastoral discussions. It’s another story when we are trying to reach an agreement between the groups and the government,” the bishop explained. “In that case I think it would be necessary for us to receive authorization from the (country's) president.”
Bishop Jaime Prieto Amaya of Cucuta added that as pastors, “We do not need permission to dialogue with those who are within our ecclesiastical jurisdiction.”
Just as “doctors are for treating the sick,” members of the guerrilla groups “approach us, talk to us and we must attend to them pastorally.
“We cannot reject them because it would be wrong from an evangelical point of view,” he concluded.