DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     June 21, 1999     vol. 10, no. 119

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          CALI, Colombia (CWNews.com) - Archbishop Isaias Duarte Cansino of Cali said on Thursday that this week's release of some hostages kidnapped on May 30 during a Mass at the La Maria Catholic Church is only "a first positive sign from the rebels," but "there is still far to go" before the excommunication of the kidnappers can be lifted.

          "I share the joy of the former hostages and their relatives," said Archbishop Duarte after receiving the released hostages and bringing them to the local hospital. The National Liberation Army (ELN) on Tuesday released only 33 hostages, keeping some 40 still captive. The Colombian government said the rebels has kept the wealthiest in order to exchange them for money, even though the ELN has insisted the kidnapping was a political action.

          "It is sad to see that the National Liberation Army is still committing the perversion of keeping other hostages," the archbishop added. He energetically attacked the ELN for continuing to hold the wealthiest hostages. "We demand, before Colombia and the world, the release of all the kidnapped, and to release them now, without shows and exhibitions," Archbishop Duarte said.

          The archbishop strongly criticized the rebels for calling a press conference and setting a stage with ELN banners for the release of the kidnapped. Although he was invited to the "ceremony," the archbishop decided to wait for the released hostages in a nearby town and then go back with them to Cali.

          "After these brutal acts, the ELN has turned into a terrorist group and they will have to show a concrete, dramatic change in their attitude and strategy," said Archbishop Duarte when asked by the press if he would suspend the excommunication after the ELN released all hostages. He excommunicated all ELN members two days after the kidnapping at La Maria Church. His decision was backed by the Colombian Bishops' Conference.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 21, 1999       volume 10, no. 119


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