DAILY CATHOLIC WEDNESDAY June 2, 1999 vol. 10, no. 106
NEWS & VIEWS
HOLY SEE DECRIES COLOMBIAN HOSTAGE SEIZURE AS COLOMBIA GOVERNMENT STOPS PEACE TALKS AFTER REBEL ABDUCTION
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- The Holy See has issued an expression of "astonishment" at the May 30 incident in which Colombian rebels took dozens of hostages at a Catholic church.
The guerrillas burst into a parish church in Cali on Sunday, and took more than 100 prisoners, including the priest who had been celebrating Mass. The Vatican referred to the incident as "an absurd violation of human rights," and "a violation of the human person in the most noble act, which is the worship of God."
In Bogota, the Colombian government on Monday broke off further peace contacts with a rebel group that abducted more than 120 people from a Catholic church on Sunday.
About 30 members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) stormed a church in a wealthy sector of the city of Cali and abducted more than 120 people, including the pastor. Eighty four of the people were later released as government soldiers chased the rebels into the surrounding mountains.
Army chief Gen. Jorge Enrique Mora said at least 40 men and 20 women remain in rebel hands on Monday, in addition to 25 people abducted from an Avianca Airlines flight in April still being held. While rebel groups in Colombia often kidnap wealthy individuals and hold them for ransom to support their operations, authorities speculated that the latest attack was an attempt to persuade President Andres Pastrana to take ELN more seriously.
Pastrana had prioritized peace with the far larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), even setting aside a Switzerland-sized portion of the country as a safe haven for the group.
El Tiempo newspaper editor Francisco Santos called the
attack on the church a huge blunder by ELN. "They are
messing with the Catholic Church," he said "That's a tough
bull to fight." On Monday, Archbishop Alberto Giraldo,
president of the Colombian bishops' conference, raised the
possibility of excommunication of those who "profane the
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NEWS & VIEWS