Colombia: Pope Francis and Week For Peace

The 2017 edition of the “Week for Peace”, it is held in Colombia, from the 3rd to 10th September, which coincides this year with two important events for the country – the beginning of consolidating the peace process after the agreements of the 24th November 2016, and the pastoral visit of Pope Francis, from 6th to 11th of September, who will “inject enthusiasm and reconciliation into the hearts of Colombians”.

This is what the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia (CEC), mons. Oscar Urbina Ortega, Archbishop of Villavicencio said with regards to the 30th “Week for Peace”. It was founded in 1987 thanks to the initiative of the Church, which has always renewed its commitment to work for the consolidation of peace and reconciliation in the country, especially in this historical period.

Mgr. Urbina Ortega pointed out that “peace is God’s gift, a task entrusted to the responsibility of the people” and “the Pope will touch the hearts of all Colombians. For us, a seed is very important in the Gospel, because when a message is given it is a seed that falls on land which is the heart, the land allows the seed to open, grow and bear fruit. This is the dynamic that will undoubtedly be present in the Pope’s messages”.

More than a thousand peace initiatives will take place throughout Colombia during this week and in the days before and after, organised by a hundred institutions, organisations, movements, universities, NGOs and other realities that reflect a vast religious, social, ethnic, cultural, economic and political plurality. The goal is to give visibility to every effort made every day by thousands of people who work to build peace and initiatives that promote the dignity of the human person. The week, especially aimed at young people, has the theme of “Many Steps for Peace and Reconciliation” and is inspired by Pope Francis’s Message for the Day of Peace on the 1st January 2017.

The Promoting Committee is led by the National Secretariat for the Social Pastoral Care of CEC, Redepaz, Pontifical Javeriana University and Cinep. A peace march is among the most important initiatives that will take place on the 6th and 7th of September from various places in the country and will reach Villavicencio on the 8th September where the meeting with the Pope will be held. An act of reconciliation among the various protagonists of the armed conflict will take place on the 4th September, a photographic exhibition on the 30 years of the Week and the National Award for the Defense of Human Rights in Colombia.

“The Week for Peace – written in the letter of Convocation – will help to create a vision of peace as an exercise of ethnic, social and labor rights, including the rights and opportunities for Colombian women. The meeting with Pope Francis, a friend of peace, with the Colombian people, a friend of peace, will strengthen the ability and commitment to build peace as an expression of justice, democracy and reconciliation”.

As Pope Francis prepares for a six-day apostolic journey to Colombia, the Holy See Press Office has released a statistical portrait of the Church in the South American nation. Colombia, a nation of 48.2 million, is 93.9% Catholic. 7,236 diocesan priests and 2,324 religious priests minister to the faithful in 4,397 parishes, with 2,995 minor seminarians and 3,416 major seminarians in formation.

In addition, the Church in Colombia has 593 permanent deacons, 1,058 non-ordained male religious, 13,874 religious sisters, and 4,167 Catholic schools.

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