Bishops urge the faithful to maintain hope amid Colombia protests

Colombia Flag Credit Polit cnico Grancolombiano Departamento de Comunicaciones via Flickr CC BY NC 20 CNA 8 27 15 The flag of Colombia. | Politicnico Grancolombiano Departamento de Comunicaciones via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Colombian bishops have urged the faithful to listen to the voice of Christ and not to let the current crisis the country is going through rob them of hope. 

A national strike began April 28 in Colombia, called by leftist organizations. Despite the talks between the strike committee and the government encouraged by the Church, concrete solutions have not been reached.

The Colombia protests were sparked by a proposed tax reform that would have lowered the salary level at which income taxes are collected.

At least 59 people have died in the protests, and 2,300 have been injured.

In a July 18 statement, the bishops said, “In this time that Colombia is going through, let's walk together. And even though we feel like we’re in the midst of a storm, let us heed the voice of the Lord: ‘Do not be afraid!’”

“Christ Jesus calls us to recognize that all of us as Colombians are in the same boat. How many limitations we experience in our attempt to maneuver the rudder!” they said.

The bishops stressed that “Real solutions are not imposed; on the contrary, we need each other to reestablish the direction of our lives towards others, each contributing from his abilities and talents: institutions, civil society and each person.”

“It pains us,“ the bishops said, to see “the suffering of so many families, the sick, our brothers and sisters who are hungry and have lost everything, so many young people who don’t see any hope for the future, those who have suffered violence.” 

“This reality invites us to turn our gaze to the Lord of life, to feel the intimate embrace of His mercy, and the need to continue building together the project of an equitable and inclusive nation. Going further down the paths of hatred and division only does us more harm,'' they pointed out.

The bishops urged the faithful to pray that “the Lord will give us the grace to transform this point in time into a story of salvation for all. Let's not let Hope be stolen!”

The bishops' message comes two days before Colombia celebrates its independence, on July 20, the date set by various groups for new marches.

In anticipation of a new outbreak of violence and with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, some local authorities have decreed a curfew.

The crisis in Colombia worsened at the end of April when the national strike was called.

Semana news reported May 13 that in Cali the strike leaders had agreed upon "a detailed strategy to extend the protests indefinitely, despite the humanitarian crisis and shortages in some regions of the country and the controversial blockades."

At the end of June, the bishops of the Pacific and the southwestern region of Colombia addressed the country's situation, encouraging reconciliation, justice, the development of responsible initiatives, and rejecting all kinds of violence.

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