Amid Colombia protests, archbishop urges overcoming visceral hatred with the love of God

The flag of Colombia. / Politicnico Grancolombiano Departamento de Comunicaciones via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Bogotá, Colombia, Jun 1, 2021 / 18:01 pm (CNA).

The Archbishop of Bogotá, Luis José Rueda Aparicio, has encouraged Colombians to overcome their fratricidal “visceral hatred” with the authentic love that comes from the Triune God.

The archbishop made this appeal in his homily on May 30, just over a month after the start of a national strike called by leftist organizations April 28. An outbreak of violence and vandalism May 28 left 13 dead and dozens injured in Cali alone.

Other cities hit by vandalism by protesters include Medellín; Popayán, where firebombs were thrown at the mayor’s office; Pereira; and the Bogotá area, where demonstrators attacked a police station in the town of Facatativá, northwest of the capital.

According to the archdiocesan office of communications, Archbishop Rueda said that “sometimes we move towards true love and life is beautiful and we are artisans and builders of a culture of mercy, but there can be times when we let ourselves be carried away by  visceral hatred that destroys us, hurts families, filling them with mourning and sadness.”

This hatred, the archbishop warned, “is destroying the relationships between us citizens and puts in our hearts anguish and fear of what may happen in the city, in the countryside and in the regions.”

The archbishop urged Colombians to live in fraternity and respect as brothers so that “true dialogue may be born. Otherwise we relate to each other like Cain and Abel where one tries to destroy the other out of envy.”

The archbishop encouraged “finding a path to consensus to solve problems,” taking into consideration two important values: respect for each person’s life and dignity.

“We must respect the lives of others, that is the supreme gift. Without life we can do nothing. That’s why we reject all forms of violence because it’s fratricidal.”

“We must respect other people’s lives, that’s the supreme gift.  Without life we can achieve nothing.” That’s why the fate of these victims “ hurts me so much, not just today’s victims but the everyday victims.”

The Archbishop of Bogotá explained that “the second greatest value next to human life is the dignity of each person. We all possess dignity because we have been created by the love of God and his fingerprints are on our conscience and in our history. There we find a key to fraternity and not to hatred or rejection.”

Archbishop Rueda also encouraged seeking the truth, overcoming misinformation or half-true information, because “the truth frees us from fear” and “from deception.”

The archbishop noted in his homily that there are “three distinct persons and one true God who in turn is love.”

“If you and I have been baptized in Trinitarian love then we are called to be artisans of mercy, servants of fraternity and constant builders of truth,” he concluded.

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 yet been reached.

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.”

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

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

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