Faith organisations' crucial role in Colombia peace process

By agency reporter
November 11, 2015

Representatives of more than 150 faith-based organisations gathered in Bogota, Colombia on 5 November to discuss their role in the peace process in that country. The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Interior and drew participation from the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, WCC representative to the United Nations, was one of the keynote speakers of the '1st International Meeting of Communities and Faith-Based Organisations: Peace Builders'. He reflected on the WCC’s experience in negotiation and dialogue facilitation of peace in countries like South Africa, El Salvador, Guatemala, South Sudan, and on the specific contribution of churches in the context of Colombia.

“In Colombia, churches and faith-based organisations play a fundamental and critical role in the processes of peace building, reconciliation and reconstruction. They have an ethical and moral authority to ensure that the processes of peace are based on justice”, said de Faria.

“The churches have a presence in the farthest corners of the country, where the state itself finds such a presence to be difficult. They assume a critical role in the reconciliation process", he added.

The Minister of Interior, Juan Fernando Cristo, acknowledged the work on peace being done by religious leaders and encouraged them to continue their ministry.

“The work of the churches of all denominations in Colombia is crucial to the process of building peace in all parts of our territory. Through their language of forgiveness, reconciliation and rebuilding, the churches have a lot to contribute”, said Cristo.

The invitation for the WCC to take part of the initiative came as a follow-up to the recent visit of the WCC General Secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit to the country, which included meetings with President Juan Manuel Santos and Cristo.

Lorena Rios, coordinator of Religious Affairs at the Ministry of Interior, stressed that the event also marked the first time that religious institutions and related organisations have been included in the National Development Plan. “Faith actors are crucial in building culture, awareness and peace", she said.

The event also included the exchange of experiences among faith-based organisations present in Colombia and discussions on how they can be connected to the peace plan in order to recognise the current situation of the faith communities and organisations in order to create a “peace builders formation centre”.

* The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

* World Council of Churches http://www.oikoumene.org/en

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