Catholic Peacebuilding Network

Enhancing the study and practice of Catholic peacebuilding

Peace Mobilization in Colombia and the Role of the Roman Catholic Church

By Fr. Mauricio García Durán, s.j.

During the last 30 years, Colombia has been debating war and peace, oscillating between an emphasis on political repression used to address the armed conflict with insurgent groups and the promotion of peace processes designed to find a negotiated solution to that conflict. Nevertheless, the different governments’ policies on security and peace have only managed to achieve partial peace accords with the guerrillas while the intensity of the conflict has escalated significantly. This telling context has generated an important mass mobilization in favor of peace that is one of the largest in the world and, undoubtedly, the biggest in a country with ongoing violent conflict. In this context, the Catholic Church has played a key role in the search for peace and in the promotion and support of the social mobilization against violence and in favor of peace.

This article will describe and analyze the key role played by the Church in the context of this growing mobilization. The article will be developed in two parts. The first will be a comprehensive, nationwide assessment of this phenomenon, presenting five of its principal tendencies. In the second part, the article will consider the contribution of the Catholic Church in the consolidation of the phenomenon. This will take into account not only ecclesiastic actions that promote peace but the way in which those actions contribute to the development of these tendencies. It can be confirmed that the Catholic Church has played a truly significant role in the mobilization, one that is surpassed only by the role played by peace organizations and municipal administrations but much greater than that of the majority of social actors.
Colombia has had a significant peace mobilization, expecially in the 90’s and the beginning of this new century. It is a mobilization that demonstrates the felt need of Colombian society to find alternatives to the armed conflict and to move forward in building a sustainable peace. The contribution of the Catholic Church to this collective effort has been significant as much for the breadth of the work accomplished as for the geographic coverage. The Church has been one of the leaders of this mobilization, contributing to the development of a repertoire of peace actions, the consolidation of an organizational infrastructure and the development of a peace discourse that does not ignore the theme of reconciliation. The Colombian Catholic Church faces the challenge of continuing this peace effort into the future in a consistent manner seeking to positively resolve the tensions and problems that arise in this collective effort.

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