Pope steps back from role in Colombia’s peace process

31 August 2016 | by Christopher Lamb in Rome

The Pope declined to send a representative to take part in the committee which selects the judges to sit on the tribunal

Pope Francis has declined the chance to send a representative to take part in setting up Colombia’s peace tribunal but has welcomed the end of more than half a century of fighting between Farc rebels and the Government. 

After 52 years of fighting and four years of peace negotiations the government and FARC militants have agreed a ceasefire. A Special Tribunal for Peace is now being established and it will investigate thousands of crimes related to the conflict.

The contentious issue relating to the tribunal will be the fact that the bulk of Farc members will be granted amnesty. Those opposed to the deal say this is simply a passport of impunity for the rebels. Its defenders point out that most young rebels were recruited by force or brainwashed, or simply had no other option in life than to join Farc to escape starvation or criminal exploitation.

In a statement released on Wednesday the Vatican said that the Pope had declined to send a representative to take part in the committee which selects the judges to sit on the tribunal. 

“Bearing in mind the universal vocation of the Church and the mission of the Successor of St Peter as Pastor of the People of God, it would be more appropriate that the said task be entrusted to other parties,” a communique from the Secretariat of State said. 

It added, however, that the Argentinian Pope supported the goal of peace and reconciliation “in light of human rights and Christian values, which are at the heart of Latin American culture”.  

Last September, Francis urged an end to hostilities in Latin America’s longest running war and promised to visit the country next year if progress was made. 

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