Cardinal Appeals for Respect for Life in Colombia

When Opening Episcopate's Plenary Assembly

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BOGOTA, Colombia, FEB. 4, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Colombian bishops' conference has condemned the attacks on life in the country, and appealed to the authorities to promote respect for it.



Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Sáez, at the opening of the episcopate's plenary assembly, said that is "worrying to observe how the value, meaning and respect for life are being lost," not only among those who offend in this respect "but among those who, given their responsibility in society, are called to watch over order and well-being."

The assembly, which ends Friday, has gathered bishops from 75 ecclesiastical jurisdictions to reflect ways to evangelize the country.

Cardinal Rubiano, primate of Colombia and archbishop of Bogota, lamented that, "while deficiencies in the field of health are grave and notorious, with hospitals being closed and a high percentage of Colombians with no access to social security, progress is being made in genetic manipulation."

But "life is a gift of God" and "no one can arrogate to himself a right over human life," warned the cardinal.

"The Church encourages and promotes scientific research for the benefit of humanity, in the fields of medicine and biology, but in a context of respect for the dignity of the human being … from the very moment of conception," he said.

For its part, "the Church will continue to do what is proper to it: to form the person so that he will behave according to his dignity," the cardinal added. "Thus, it proposes appropriate sexual education, beginning in the family, which must be complemented by the educational institutions to which the family entrusts the continuity of a healthy formation of the children."

The president of the bishops' conference appealed "to lawmakers -- representatives in the Congress of the republic of a people that in the majority is believing -- so that good sense and respect for life will prevail, when considering proposals for abortion, euthanasia, and the union of same-sex couples, equating them with the family.'

He mentioned, in addition "the gravity of the humanitarian crisis the country faces," and the existence of "social injustice, exclusion, poverty, displacement and kidnapping," and confirmed that the Church will continue to collaborate "in the building of a Colombia in peace, truth, justice and reconciliation."

Last October, Monsignor Héctor Fabio Henao, director of Caritas-Colombia and of the country's social-pastoral care program told ZENIT that in the 40 years of conflict the country has endured "the Church has often represented the only channel of communication among the different belligerent factions."

Over the last four decades, the bloody conflict has left 3 million displaced and, just in the last decade, 35,000 civilians dead.