Catholic Peacebuilding Network

Enhancing the study and practice of Catholic peacebuilding

Church's Reflection on its Role in the Conflict


by Msgr. Hector Fabio Henao*

Since the 1980s, the Catholic Church has intensified its reflection on the situation in Colombia and the various forms of violence, enhancing its vision of the Church’s role in the face of the many challenges that have emerged. One great need has been to define the role of the Conference of Bishops in approaching the enormous challenges, as well as the way in which the various sectors of the church integrate themselves into the quest for alternatives and options for transformation amid the confrontations that have wracked Colombia for centuries.

In this quest, lessons have been learned from other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, but in many ways we have found ourselves facing completely new situations. In Colombia the Church is not responding to the challenges of a military dictatorship, nor is it a country in which the parties to the conflict are differentiated into two groups, as in other cases. This has demanded a process of learning and reflection in conjunction with other analytical viewpoints and schools of thought.

The recognition that Colombia is experiencing a complex conflict that requires actions and proposals in accordance with this complexity has led to an emphasis on encounters with diverse, pluralistic stakeholders to reach consensus on various proposals. The complexity addressed in these encounters comes not only from the multiplicity of armed actors, but also from the existence of factors such as drug trafficking, the many different types of conflicts that surround the major armed conflict, and above all from the inequality and social exclusion that lie at the root of the entire problem.

  • Director of the Colombian Catholic Church’s National Social Ministry Secretariat/Caritas

    To see the entire article:

The Colombian church and Peacebuilding

Chapter from “Colombia: Building Peace in a Time of War,” edited by Virginia M. Bouvier, United States Institute of Peace Press