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On November 11, 2002, Bishop Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal, Bishop of Zipaquirá, Colombia and President of the Latin American Episcopal Council, together with his priest associate, Father Desiderio Orjuela, was kidnapped while traveling to a confirmation in a town north of the city of Bogotá. While as of this moment, no group has accepted responsibility for this despicable act, all indications point to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolutionarias de Colombia (FARC), as the perpetrators. We join the Episcopal Conference of Colombia in denouncing this act and all such acts of kidnapping as violations of the life, dignity, and freedom of the human person.
Bishop Jiménez is well known and much loved by many of the members of our Conference. Since he was formerly General Secretary of CELAM and is now its President, we have had numerous opportunities both to welcome him at meetings here in our country and to experience his warm hospitality and impressive leadership in gatherings in Latin America. We have been enriched and inspired by his guidance and wise contributions to the Synod for America, to the meetings of the Bishops of the Church in America, and to our conference last January on "Humanizing the Global Economy." In all these encounters, we have sensed his deep spirituality and his joyful attitude, which we pray will give him the grace and strength to prevail in this time of trial.
We call upon the perpetrators of this criminal act to release Bishop Jiménez and Father Orjuela immediately. We urge all insurgent groups in Colombia to return to the way of dialogue and negotiations, the only path to true peace and justice. We call on the government of President Uribe to do everything possible to facilitate a renewed peace process so that Colombia can finally reach the goal of peace and reconciliation that it so desperately needs and desires.
We join with the Holy Father in sharing the sorrow of our Brother Bishops of Colombia, as they continue courageously to preach the Gospel and struggle for peace in that violence-torn country.
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