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Friday, February 24, 2017
Archbishop from conflict-torn Colombia to visit UK
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 A Colombian Archbishop will visit England and Wales this week to encourage people to support a campaign for peace and justice in the South American country after 40 years of conflict. More than three million people ­ roughly equivalent to the population of Wales - have been forced to flee their homes by guerrilla groups and paramilitaries and many now live in poverty in shanty-towns on the outskirts of cities. Archbishop Rubén Salazar will tell schools pupils, university students and parishioners what life is like for people living in the conflict-torn country during a series of talks in Wales. He will also meet Welsh MEPs and concelebrate Mass at St David's Cathedral in Cardiff with Archbishop Peter Smith during his week-long tour. The 65-year-old will explain to people how the Colombian conflict has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world and ask them to sign a petition urging his government to give survivors of the conflict the support they need. He will also ask people in Wales to sign a giant Welsh flag to show their support for the Colombian people, which he will present to a major reconciliation conference in Bogotá in August. Rubén Salazar is Archbishop of Baranquilla, Colombia's fourth largest city. He is currently leading the Colombian Church's campaign for a negotiated peace in the country and has been outspoken in denouncing poverty as one of the root causes of the conflict. He leads the Colombian Church's work in some of its most sensitive areas; humanitarian relief, the defence of human rights and peace education. When in London the Archbishop will concelebrate Mass in Stamford Hill. He will be joined on this leg of his tour by Monsignor Héctor Fabio, director of the Social Department of the Colombian Bishops' Conference, one of CAFOD's main partners in Colombia. Monsignor Héctor Fabio will concelebrate mass in Brixton and attend a meeting at the Foreign Office during his stay. Barbara Davies, CAFOD's Programme Support Officer for Colombia and Peru, said: "We hope the Archbishop's visit will help people understand what day-to-day life is like for those living in the South American country and encourage them to support the campaign for peace. "When most people think of Colombia they think of kidnapping and drugs but there is another side to the country - the people I have met have been so inspiring, often putting their lives at risk to help others affected by the conflict. The least we can do is stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and offer support." Head of CAFOD Wales, Richard Laydon, said: "We hope CAFOD supporters and the wider public will welcome Archbishop Rubén Salazar and support his efforts - through campaign initiatives in Wales - to try and bring peace and justice to his country after 40 years of conflict."
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