Cardinal Parolin: Religion important for peace in Colombia

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on Monday celebrated a Liturgy of the Word in Cartagena to mark the signing of the Final Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Marxist FARC rebels which aims to end decades of conflict which have left nearly 250,000 people dead, and displaced millions of others.

In his homily, the Cardinal said Pope Francis has followed “with great attention” and encouraged  “the efforts of recent years in search of harmony and reconciliation.”

“The Pope has always encouraged respect for human rights and Christian values, ​​which are at the center of the Colombian culture,” Cardinal Parolin continued.

The Cardinal said he hoped the signing of the Agreement would “ease the pain of those many people who have been humiliated and oppressed by the violence [of the conflict], stop hatred, and change the course of history to build a better future with strong and just institutions.”

“The safest way to begin a better future is to reconstruct the dignity of those who suffer, and to do this you need to approach them without delay, to the point where you can identify with them,” – Cardinal Parolin continued – “In fact, the root causes of this conflict which in recent decades has torn apart this country can be found in the wounds of the heart.”

He concluded his remarks by speaking of the importance of religious institutions for the peace of the nation.

“Religions lead to listening, to understanding and to recognizing the reasons for and the value of the other,” – Cardinal Parolin said – “Faith is opposed to harming the dignity of the person which causes the tearing of the civil fabric, and is not contrary to secularism, understood as respect for the various fields of competence belonging to the civil and spiritual realities.”

The Cardinal continued by saying “secularism has need of faith as a necessary reference point for coexistence and for respect.”

“The Catholic Church, in particular, promotes peaceful social coexistence, in accordance with the spiritual tradition of the people of Colombia, without claiming that all belong to the same religious confession,” – he said – “It offers points of reference so that individuals and communities are able to find and illuminate the common good.”

(from Vatican Radio)

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