CELAM President and a Priest Kidnapped

Nov 13, 2002 03:00 AM EST

VATICAN CITY - John Paul II decried the kidnapping of the president of the Latin American bishops' council (CELAM), and of a priest who was accompanying him. Bishop Jorge Enrique Jimenez Carvajal of Zipaquira, Colombia, was kidnapped in the central department of Cundinamarca, together with Father Desiderio Orjuila, parish priest of Pancho.

Both were on their way to celebrate the sacrament of confimation of young people. Investigators believe the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) is behind the kidnapping.

A papal telegram, published today by the Vatican Press Office, was sent by Cardianl Angelo Sodano,, Vatican secretary of state, to Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz, archbishop of Bogota and president of the Colombian Episcopal conference.

In his message, the Holy Father encourages "all pastors and ministers of the Church to continue with generosity their service to the Gospel and to the people of God in Colombia, despite the difficulties and sorrows, working tirelessly to reach the longed for peace in the country."

John Paul II assured the Colombian cardinal that he "prays to the Lord to make those responsible reconsider, so that they will release the kidnapped and abandon all forms of violence."

The Pontifical Commission for Latin America, presided over by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, also published a statement condemning the kidnappings and expressing its solidarity with CELAM and with the Church in Colombia.

The staement makes an "energetic appeal so that those responsible for such an execrebla deed will respect life, liberty, human dignity and the ministry of the distinguished member of the Latin Amrican hierchy and of the priest, releasing them immediately."

By Pauline Jang
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