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Bishops urge conversion amid drug gang violence in Ecuador

November 7, 2022 Catholic News Agency 0
Members of the National Police prepare before going out to patrol the streets of Duran, city neighbouring Guayaquil, Ecuador, on Nov. 5, 2022. Special police forces continued on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022 to transfer imprisoned criminal gang leaders who have unleashed terror in Guayaquil as part of the government’s “open war” against drug trafficking. / Photo by RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP via Getty Images

CNA Newsroom, Nov 7, 2022 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

Drug trafficking gangs in Ecuador have reacted to the government’s efforts to retake control of the prisons by launching a series of attacks — including the use of car bombs — that have left several dead, including five police officers.

In an effort to quell the violence, on Nov. 4 the president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, extended to the province of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas the state of emergency that has been in effect in the provinces of Las Guayas and Esmeraldas since Nov. 1.

The state of emergency suspends for 45 days the rights to freedom of association and assembly, the inviolability of the home, and personal correspondence. The decrees of Nov. 1 and 4 also establish a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

In a Nov. 5 statement, the Ecuadorian bishops called on the crime gangs to stop the violence and to take the path to conversion.

“The power, the money that you now have from so many dirty businesses, from so many mafia-style crimes, is blood money… Convert; there is still time to not end up in hell. This is what awaits you if they continue down this path,” they warned, citing the words of Pope Francis.

They also called on politicians and social actors to seek the welfare of the people and not partisan interests. “It depends largely on political and social action for the mafias to not fill their ranks with the poor,” the bishops said.

After expressing their solidarity with the families of the victims, the prelates said that “each one of us will have to render an account not only to history but to God himself for our actions.”

“It’s time for national unity, to rebuild the social compact that unites us and fight that common enemy which is organized crime … that seeks to destroy the most valuable treasure we have, our children and young people, and that finds fertile ground in a society in which, unfortunately, poverty and inequality seem to have no end,” the bishops said.

The Ecuadorian bishops announced Sunday, Nov. 6, as a day of prayer in all parishes, chapels, and oratories to ask God for peace and the end of violence in the country.

The bishops asked that the following prayer be offered that day:

“Almighty and merciful God, Lord of the universe and of human history. Everything you have created is good, and your compassion for man, who abandons you again and again, is inexhaustible.

“We come today to implore you to protect Ecuador and its inhabitants with peace, taking far away from it the destructive waves of violence, restoring friendship, and pouring into the hearts of your creatures the gift of trust and readiness to forgive.

“Giver of life, we also pray to you for all those who have died, victims of brutal criminal acts. Grant them recompense and eternal joy. May they intercede for Ecuador, shaken by anguish and misfortune.

“Jesus, Prince of Peace, we pray for those injured in attacks by crime gangs: children and young people, women and men, the elderly, innocent people and those who have been randomly attacked. Heal their bodies and hearts; may they feel strengthened by your consolation. Keep away hatred and the desire for revenge from them.

“Holy Spirit the Comforter, visit the families that mourn the loss of their relatives, innocent victims of violence and drug trafficking. Cover them with the mantle of your Divine Mercy. May they find in you the strength and courage to continue being brothers and sisters to others, bearing witness to your love with their lives.

“Move the hearts of the violent so that they recognize the evil of their actions and return to the path of peace and goodness, respect for life and the dignity of every human being.

“God, Eternal Father, compassionately listen to this prayer that rises toward you amid the din and desperation of Ecuador. Full of trust in your infinite mercy, trusting in the intercession of your Most Holy Mother, we turn to you with great hope, imploring the gift of peace and asking you to remove from us scourge of violence away. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.”

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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Bishops call for dialogue, offer help amid Ecuador protests

June 24, 2022 Catholic News Agency 0
Demonstrators clash with riot police, nearby El Ejido park, in Quito, on June 24, 2022, in the framework of indigenous-led protests against the government. – Ecuador’s government and Indigenous protesters accused each other of intransigence as thousands gathered for a 12th day of a fuel price revolt that has claimed six lives and injured dozens. After the most violent day of the campaign so far — with police firing tear gas to disperse thousands storming Congress — the government accused protesters of shunning a peaceful outcome. / Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty Images

Lima, Peru, Jun 24, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

The bishops of Ecuador have called for dialogue in order to reach an agreement between the government and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), which is leading nationwide protests that have left six dead.

“On behalf of the Ecuadorian Bishops’ Conference, I wish to reaffirm our heartfelt call for the parties involved, setting aside any extreme position, to sit down to dialogue, to listen to each other, to reflect together and make decisions that benefit the entire country and not just small groups,” said Archbishop Luis Gerardo Cabrera Herrera of Guayaquil, president of the Ecuadorian Bishops’ Conference, in a June 22 video message.

“At the same time, we want to commit our participation to what the parties also see fit. The only thing we really want is for the much longed for peace to become a reality between us, a peace always based on justice, freedom and truth,” he added.

Beginning June 13, indigenous organizations have called for an indefinite national strike to demand the reduction of fuel prices and price caps for farm products. The marches have turned violent and protesters have clashed with the police and closed several roads.

Ecuador has recently faced high levels of inflation, unemployment, and poverty.

The initially peaceful protest resulted in a wave of violence and clashes between civilians and security forces that has so far left six dead, 74 injured, and 87 detained. In addition, the highway blockades have exacerbated the economic crisis in the country.

Meanwhile, the leader of Conaie, Leonidas Iza, opposes participating in the talks that Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso had already agreed to attend, pointing out that certain conditions must be met, such as lifting the state of emergency in force in six provinces of the country.

Iza was briefly arrested June 14. He is barred from leaving the country, and must appear before an attorney general twice weekly.

The Minister of the Interior, Patricio Carrillo, reported June 22 that an attack by indigenous people against police facilities in the city of Puyo left six policemen injured, 18 missing, and 18 police vehicles damaged.

Conaie also denounced abusive tactics used in cracking down against the protests by the police and the military.

Archbishop Alfredo José Espinoza Mateus of Quito also spoke out about the national strike, recalling the words of Pope Francis.

“Pope Francis tells us that it’s not easy to build dialogue, especially if you are divided by rancor. Dialogue is the only possible path, we have told the bishops of Ecuador. Dialogue, as the Pope affirms, must be marked by listening and meekness. It must be a path that is built together,” he explained.

The prelate reminded that “hate and rancor through violence build walls, but assuming this attitude of listening, humility, meekness, builds bridges that unite us.”

“I again invite us as archbishop of Quito to take this path of dialogue; that we may know how to listen to each other, because it’s a common goal, the goal is the good of our country. And let’s build those bridges to be able to achieve an Ecuador of peace and a better Ecuador,” he concluded.

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