Authorities reach agreement to reopen Catholic chapel at Colombian airport

el dorado airport chapel The Catholic chapel in El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá, Colombia. The airport announced Aug. 26, 2022, that the space would be modified and used as a place “where all religions will be welcome.” | Photo credit: Pexels

The Catholic chapel that had been closed at the El Dorado International Airport will reopen after an agreement was reached between Church authorities in Colombia and the administrators of the air terminal, the bishop of Fontibón, Juan Vicente Córdoba, announced Sept. 22.

OPAIN, the management company that operates the airport located in Fontibón, a Bogotá suburb, announced Aug. 26 that the oratory that used to function as a Catholic chapel was going to be converted into a “neutral” place of worship.

The Diocese of Fontibón, which served the chapel, was forced to remove all liturgical furnishings and symbols and vacate the premises.

Representatives of the Catholic Church as well as politicians and civil society leaders criticized the decision. Catholics opposing the move organized a march to the airport and the recitation of the rosary outside the closed chapel to demand it be reopened.

At the time, Córdoba pointed out in a video that the diocese had an agreement with OPAIN to operate the chapel until 2037. The bishop  disclosed that it was closed after the Government Secretariat of the Bogotá Mayor’s Office requested and notified OPAIN “to get the Catholic Church out of there and apportion it to all religions.”

Now, almost a month later, Córdoba confirmed that the Catholic oratory will remain there and that a place will be opened for other religions.

The agreement was reached after a meeting between the president of the board of directors of OPAIN, Mauricio Ossa, and his work team, and Córdoba and the president of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Luis José Rueda of Bogotá.

In his statement, the bishop of Fontibón said that “after calmly, openly, clearly, and humbly analyzing everything related to the topic of the Catholic Oratory of El Dorado Airport, we reached a very good agreement for the glory of God and the good of the citizens.”

“After hearing from each other the necessary clarifications,” OPAIN decided to continue to lease free of charge to the Diocese of Fontibón “the El Dorado Airport Catholic Oratory and the Air Bridge Oratory,” the prelate explained.

Córdoba also announced that an interreligious room will be built for other creeds. The prelate expressed his gratitude for the solidarity of Catholics and non-Catholics.

The Catholic chapel will open in the next few days, as the place is currently undergoing renovations.

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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