Bogotá archbishop exhorts Colombia: ‘Never forget God!’

Colombia A crowd of Colombians in Bogotá greets Pope Francis during his trip to the country in 2017. | Credit: David Ramos / ACI Press

Archbishop Luis José Rueda Aparicio of Bogotá, Colombia, exhorted the country’s families to “never forget God!” in his homily for the Mass and Te Deum for Colombian Independence Day on July 20.

“Colombia, do not forget God. When we forget God, when a country forgets God, it goes to ruin, it self-destructs,” said the archbishop, who is also the president of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference.

The Mass and Te Deum marking the 212th anniversary of Colombia’s independence from Spain were held in the primatial cathedral in Bogotá.

The prelate said that “seeking God is seeking true hope. As Benedict XVI says, this hope can only be God, who embraces the universe and who can give us what we cannot achieve on our own.”

“Dear families, dear Colombian homeland, so that we may make the ethics of reconciliation that triumphs over war and violence, that defends life and builds peace a reality, Colombia, never forget God,” he stressed.

The archbishop highlighted that there are many baptized Catholics who have sown the seeds of the Kingdom of God in Colombia and who have even gone as far as martyrdom, such as the bishop of Arauca, Blessed Jesús Jaramillo Monsalve, and the archbishop of Cali, Isaías Duarte Cancino, “assassinated by drug-trafficking violence in our country.”

The ‘anti-culture of hatred’

Rueda also explained the need for forgiveness and reconciliation to overcome hatred and war.

The country has been “in the midst of a prolonged and painful armed conflict that seems to have no end, at the root of which is social inequity, drug trafficking, corruption, and the anti-culture of hatred,” the archbishop said.

“Yes, that anti-culture of hatred that leads us to eliminate each other and that has left many families in Colombia in mourning. There in the midst of that conflict and that horror of war, which we cannot get used to, the members of the Church have been sowing seeds of the kingdom and interweaving with hope an ethic of forgiveness, reconciliation, and mercy.”

“The Lord tells us: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who defame you,” he continued.

By doing this, he stressed, “we will be able to profoundly renew our society with the power of the Gospel, with the presence of Christ.”

“Today in Colombia, dear brothers and sisters, we are called to build a new ethic, founded and illuminated by the Gospel of Christ, the ethic of reconciliation to go with the hope of Christ throughout Colombia,” the prelate stressed.

After encouraging the defense of life in “the mother’s womb to the life of the elderly and the terminally ill,” the archbishop of Bogotá prayed to the Virgin of Chiquinquirá, the patroness of Colombia, that peace would reign.

“We ask the Virgin of Chiquinquirá that in the homes of Colombia we do not nourish violence, but rather the Gospel that is the word of life, that in the Eucharist we bring strength for the journey in Colombia,” he exhorted.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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