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Friday, February 24, 2017
Colombia: funeral of murdered archbishop
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 The funeral of the Archbishop of Cali, Mgr Isaías Duarte Cancino, took place at San Pedro Cathedral in Cali yesterday. Since last Sunday an estimated 20 thousand came to the cathedral to pay their last respects. Local residents set up an altar with flowers and candles on the site where he died last Saturday and a gigantic image of him was placed at the entrance of the church. CAFOD has sent a message of sympathy to the Colombian bishops expressing their horror at the 'barbaric and sacrilegious; murder of Archbishop Cancino. The 63 year old archbishop was killed just after he had presided over a wedding of 104 couples from one of Cali's poorest suburbs. Gunmen opened fire at close range and escaped on a motorcycle. Archbishop Duarte had been a vocal critic of of Colombia's illegal; armed groups - guerrilla, paramilitaries and drug traffickers. Most recently he had accused drugs barons of financing candidates in the March 10 congressional elections. CAFOD's Colombia programme officer, Francis McDonagh said: :Whoever turns out to have been responsible for this crime, the lesson is the same: no human life is now sacrosanct in Colombia's bitter civil conflict." The level of violence in Colombia has increased since the collapse of peace talks between the government and the main rebel group last month. CAFOD has consistently supported the efforts of the Colombian bishops to secure a negotiated solution to the country's conflict. Francis McDonagh said: "The best tribute to the memory of Archbishop Duarte would be a return to peace negotiations. He left a message to the Colombian people in the words he spoke before his murder to the couples he had just married: "Love each other. respect each other." Clare Dixon, head of CAFOD's Latin America section, said: "We are united in our thoughts and prayers with all the members of the church in Colombia and all Colombians, in the hopes that the sacrifice made by Archbishop Duarte may be a first step towards building the Columbia of which he dreamed."
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