Expressing solidarity with the people of Colombia and searching for clearer understanding of the country’s complex humanitarian situation, some participants of the annual meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Reference Group of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace (PJPRG) visited the regions of Valledupar, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Chocó, Cali and Cauca on 3-5 February.
The Pilgrim Team Visits (PTVs) focused on issues related to the peace process, gender-based violence, land-based injustices and displacement. The delegations listened to women’s stories of ongoing displacement and violence, as well as testimonies of hope and transformation through the peace process. The teams also visited former combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who are now settled in Temporary Hamlet Zones for Normalization.
Latin America and the Caribbean is the regional focus of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace in 2018, with Colombia as a priority country on the theme of “Diakonia and Sustainable Development.” This theme was reflected and examined by members of the PTVs.
Each team highlighted the three pilgrimage dimensions: celebrating the gifts, visiting the wounds, and transforming the injustices. During the meeting of PJPRG, which took place in Bogotá, 6-10 February, the teams had the opportunity to share their experience of visiting some of the wounds of the Colombian people and also heard stories of transformation.
The teams had contact with strong narratives of trauma, such as the one of the assassination of Mario Castaño, a community leader of La Florida, in Riosucio, who defended the rights to the land where they live, and was killed in his home in the presence of his family, in November 2017.
As one of the participants, Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, deputy general secretary of the WCC, reflected on her experience of Pilgrim Team Visits, “Pilgrim Team Visits are spiritual journeys which involve going to broken places where people are hurting and where nature is suffering. Pilgrim Team Visits provide a space for the contextual analysis, theological reflections, and actions for the transformation of injustices on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.”
The PJPRG program in Bogotá was closed with a back-to-back meeting with the PJP Theological Study Group, which stays in Colombia until 14 February for the worship service that will celebrate the launch of the 2018 Lenten campaign “Seven Weeks for Water”, from the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network.
"WCC calls for peace in Colombia" - WCC news release, 9 February 2018