The Catholic Church continues to play a role in the latest peace process in Colombia, which began in October 2012. Several civil society groups, including key Catholic actors such as the Colombian Episcopal Conference and Jesuit and Pontifical Universities, sent a letter to the Colombian negotiating teams in Havana on Aug. 30, 2013 focusing on human rights, labor rights, peace and reconciliation. They urge negotiators to stay at the table until an agreement is reached and conclude by offering to play their part in educating the populace.
Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao, Director of Caritas Colombia, met with Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon on October 3, 2010, urging the government to continue pursuing negotiations with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—FARC) guerrillas. An article on this meeting is in Colombia Reports.
Currently, the armed conflict in Colombia involves three main actors: the government security forces, left-wing guerillas and right-wing paramilitaries. Additionally, actors such as drug traffickers, landowners, and other legal and illegal armed groups exist. In 1998, the Episcopal Conferences of Colombia and Germany facilitated the realization of the agreement of Puerta del Cielo in Mainz, Germany, between the armed groups and important sectors of the Colombian civil society. In addition, a Church’s Peace Commission has been designated to follow up peace initiatives with this rebel organization.
Taking into account the prospect of a negotiated political solution, the Church has reaffirmed its vocation as facilitator, showing her determination to respond to the request of the parties in order to overcome tensions throughout negotiation processes. Meanwhile, Colombian bishops have always insisted on the urgent need to move forward on the implementation of humanitarian agreements that allow the humanization of the conflict.
In 2002, the Colombian Bishops issued a plan for peace.