Colombian Cardinal Urges Country to Pray for Peace

Ecuadorian Prelates Ask Citizens to "Remain Calm"

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BOGOTA, Colombia, MARCH 6, 2008 (<A href="http://www.zenit.org">Zenit.org</A>).- The archbishop of Colombia has invited the South American nation to pray an Our Father at midday on Friday so that peace will be restored to the region.



Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Sáenz said this as tensions mount in Latin America after Colombia conducted a cross-border raid Saturday of a camp of the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, located inside Ecuador.

Both Venezuela and Ecuador cut off diplomatic relations with Colombia for having violating Ecuador's sovereignty, and have sent troops to their borders. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega announced today that the Central American nation would also break off ties with Colombia, as a gesture of "solidarity" with Ecuador.

President Álvaro Uribe said he attacked the rebel group himself because Ecuador was allowing the terrorist organization to take refuge there.

"We have to ask God to help us so that we can live in peace," said Cardinal Sáenz. "At 12 noon we will stand and we will pray an Our Father for Colombia."

In statements to the press, the cardinal analyzed the diplomatic crisis provoked in Ecuador and Venezuela. He said that even though Colombia's military operation provoked a sharp reaction from the neighboring countries, at the same time it was able "to bring to the light many things that were very hidden."

He said he was "impressed" that the neighboring countries were in a sense taking the side of the FARC: "This is a difficult and hard situation, but it has revealed what the guerillas are doing with the help of two brother countries."

Brother countries

In Ecuador, the country's episcopal conference released a statement titled "Ecuador, Country of Peace and Solidarity" in which the bishops rejected the violation of the nation's borders.

The conference said that it "profoundly regrets what has happened between two brother countries, historically united by multiple ties." And beyond political considerations, it laments the "new episode of violent deaths."

The bishops said they "reject the violation of Ecuadorian borders on the part of those who had passed illegally into our territory," and called for a "clarification of the events that took place at the northern border, with transparency, truth and justice."

Nonetheless, continued the bishops, violence "only generates more violence." The conference called to set aside aggressive measures, "and to begin a sincere dialogue, path of reconciliation."

They conference invited "all Ecuadorians to affirm themselves in unity and solidarity, as the path toward strength, and to defend the national dignity, from within and from outside our borders."

Asking the citizens of Ecuador to "remain calm in the midst of these adverse circumstances," the prelates urged the citizenry to "not renounce our vocation as a people who are lovers of peace, and to build our society on justice and respect for law."