The Colombian Bishops’ Conference has called on the outlawed guerilla group the National Liberation Army (ELN) to immediately release Luis Manuel Díaz, the kidnapped father of Colombian soccer star Luis Díaz, who plays for England’s Liverpool team.

The Colombian bishops said that the country is experiencing a “serious humanitarian situation” as a result of the actions of paramilitary groups and that they strongly condemn the kidnappings. In addition, the prelates called for “the guiding principle of the value of life and its comprehensive protection to prevail.”

“We join the nation’s outcry for Mr. Luis Manuel Díaz to be released so he can return to his home in safety. We hope that the prompt release announced by the ELN delegate for the peace talks with the government will happen immediately,” the bishops said.

The conference expressed its solidarity and closeness with all the others kidnapped by illegal gangs and with their families. “We accompany them with our sentiments of brotherhood and prayer for their prompt release and we implore the invaluable intercession of the Virgin Mary in this supplication to the Lord,” they said.

Finally, the Colombian bishops placed themselves at the full disposal of the authorities to collaborate in whatever is necessary “so that there is not a single human being experiencing the harsh conditions of kidnapping.” They also recalled the words of Pope Francis during his apostolic trip to the country, where he stated that “the search for peace is always a work in progress, a task that gives no respite.”

Fellow athletes show solidarity with Luis Díaz

Several Colombian soccer players — and others from around the world — have shown their support and closeness to Luis Díaz during the last week.

James Rodríguez, historic captain of the Colombian National Team, wrote on X: “We are with you @LuisFDiaz19 in these difficult times. We ask for respect and solidarity... Freedom for your father and all those kidnapped!”

Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, David Ospina, Diogo Jota, and Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool coach, also expressed their solidarity. Luis Díaz himself, last Sunday, when scoring a goal against Luton Town, lifted his jersey and revealed another shirt with the message “Freedom for Dad” written on it.

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After the game, the Liverpool forward posted a statement on social media in which he appealed to the ELN to release his father.

“Every second, every minute our anguish grows; my mother, my brothers and I are desperate, distressed and without words to describe what we are feeling. This suffering will only end when we have him back home,” he wrote.

Luis Manuel Díaz, along with his wife, Cilenis Marulanda, were kidnapped Oct. 28 by ELN. His wife was later released.

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