What were the highlights of your recent visit to Colombia?
Dr Mtata: First, Colombia is a deeply fragile but promising country. It’s the second highest unequal nation in Latin America and the Caribbean (next to Haiti), and it has armed groups, polarised socio-economic systems, and a drug (cocaine) economy.
It is a country in which policy and its implementation matter. The "Total Peace" agenda of Colombian president Gustavo Petro takes the role of churches, civil society organizations, and different interest groups seriously.
Therefore the churches are very much engaged in the peace process, which is very much on the right path. Another key highlight for me was working with the Catholics and the Swiss, and others who show the interconnectedness of the peace process.
How are core current themes of the ecumenical movement, such as the Pilgrimage of Justice, Reconciliation, and Unity, and ecumenical diakonia reflected in the WCC’s approach to the Colombia peace process?
Dr Mtata: The peace process is very connected to unity, and to reconciliation and justice. For example, our meeting with the Latin American Catholic Bishops' Conference general secretary, Bishop Lizardo Estrada Herrera, highlighted that the unity of the church is central for the integrity of society.
We saw the value among peace actors of strong coordination related to diakonia. This came out of fruitful coordination reflection sessions with the Lutheran World Federation, ACT Alliance, the Mennonite Church, and others.
What are the key partners of the WCC in this process in Colombia?
Dr Mtata: We could see the fruits of the partnership with the Lutheran World Federation, with ACT Alliance, with local churches, with the Norwegian government and the Swiss government. Support for Colombia from other countries is needed. Countries like Switzerland, Norway, and others are already supporting the peace process.
In what way can the WCC engagement for peace on Colombia nurture the Council’s peace agenda in other parts of the world?
Dr Mtata: The success of the Colombia peace process can benefit the region. In fact, a session on Cuba during the International Conference for Reconciliation confirmed the great potential of the peace process for the whole Latin America and Caribbean region. We need to strengthen ecumenical engagement in Colombia, and more strongly qualify the WCC’s role.
Our conception of peace must also be shaped by our worship life. God's reign is one of peace, justice, and abundant life for all.
Mtata was accompanied by Rev. Vilma Yañez, from the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, who is a member of the central committee of the WCC, Dr h.c. Humberto Shikiya, WCC regional representative to the Colombia peace process, and Dr Marcelo Schneider, WCC Latin America specialist and communication officer.