The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has conveyed in a meeting with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos that “the churches believe in reconciliation, forgiveness and repentance, and are committed to contribute to the peace building process.”
Tveit added that “churches in Colombia have full support of the ecumenical international community” in their pursuit of peace in their country.
Colombia has been marred by violence for several decades, largely due to land disputes. The communities in the country have been affected by more than four decades of violence caused by deeply rooted social injustice and inequity.
The meeting between the WCC delegation and President Juan Manuel Santos took place at the presidential palace, Casa de Nariño in Bogota, on 7 September.
During the meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos, Tveit shared information about the direct participation of the WCC in different peace processes around the world and the willingness of the local and global ecumenical fellowship to be part of the implementation of the peace process after the agreement is signed. “The churches have capacities that now should be used in education for peace,” he said.
President Santos expressed his interest in having the international community, represented by the WCC and its member churches in the region, contribute to build justice and peace in the country in the post-conflict situation.
“Peace is not magic. It is hard work. But it is possible,” said Tveit.
“We will continue to support and will watch carefully how this crucial phase of the process develops,” said the WCC general secretary.
Before meeting with President Santos, Tveit and Rev. Gloria Ulloa, WCC president for Latin America and the Caribbean, met with the minister of internal affairs, Juan Fernando Cristo, and representatives of churches and faith-based organizations in Colombia.
Tveit was accompanied by Rev. Gloria Ulloa, WCC president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Rev. Ely Barraza, Rev. Diego Iguita, Rev. Luis Fernando Sanmiguel, all from the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, WCC’s representative to the United Nations in New York, and Dr Marcelo Schneider, WCC communications liaison for Latin America.
In a press conference after the meeting, Cristo thanked the WCC for its support to the peace initiatives in Colombia. “The role of the churches is absolutely crucial in the region and we are grateful for this collective effort to build peace in our country after the negotiations in Havana,” he said.
The agenda of the last day of the pilgrimage through Latin America ended with the WCC delegation meeting with the leadership of the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM) at its headquarters in Bogota.
The meetings of the WCC delegation in Colombia were part of the WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace – a call issued by the 10th Assembly of the WCC at Busan in the Republic of Korea in 2013.