The Violence of Peace-Making: Archbishop Oscar Romero and the Search for Peace.
Over seventy people filled the Chapel at Loreto College to hear how prayer can foster peace and prosperity. Fr Francisco de Roux SJ spoke inspirationally, to a crowded chapel, of his experiences in Colombia. He tells of how the church is able to open dialogue between different factions and organisations within Colombia. A reflection of Oscar Romero’s life and work in El Salvador was also given.
Less than a year ago, Archbishop Oscar Romero underwent the beatification decree. As this happened, a rainbow appeared around the sun, a natural phenomenon that astonished the world. The solar halo appeared at the exact moment of beatification and lasted around forty five minutes. The halo can be interpreted as the angels in heaven applauding as they welcomed the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero.
“We can’t simply stop the war, we must build peace.” (Francisco de Roux SJ)
Clare Dixon introduced Francisco de Roux SJ. They met in 1979 at the previous CAFOD headquarters in London. The first ever Human Rights investigation in Columbia had just been concluded. The report was originally only written in English. This is hugely significant, as very few people in Colombia could read or speak English, the document needed to be translated into Spanish. Francisco de Roux SJ went to Claire Dixon to have the document translated. Once the document was translated, it was distributed to the Spanish speaking communities of London.
An awe struck audience listened intently to Francisco de Roux SJ as he shared his experiences of the war, and the struggle for peace. After more than 50 years of violence in Colombia, Human Rights violations have been prevalent. Factions and multiple guerrilla organisations, organised crime and drugs caused wide spread suffering. Francisco de Roux SJ has dedicated his life to building peace and reconciliation. He travels the globe enlightening people with his experiences.
Francisco de Roux SJ explained that; “The search for peace is something that only the church could help achieve.” The church was able to “entrust a large amount of fundraising for a programme of peace.”
“We tried to convince people to connect, to work together, to get together.” Francisco de Roux SJ was brought to tears whilst speaking passionately about social justice and peace.
Francisco de Roux SJ seeks to “Transform violence into projects of development.”
He told us of the circumstances of a meeting in Colombia that included people from various organisations and fractions. He regaled how he was told: “’don’t trust people in the room, they could be a terrorist,’” in response he lifted his hand into the air and said he had to trust, because, “this was a peace making moment.”
Passion and pure emotion filled his
voice as he said:
“We stop the war here, now. We stop the war here everywhere. This is what we have to do now.”
Francisco de Roux SJ further proclaimed:
“I can testify; I have seen the change because of the dialogue.”
A movement towards positive peace is beginning to spread across Colombia. Peace is to be achieved by the use of dialogue, not the use of weapons. Francisco de Roux SJ is adamant that safety and security can only be achieved through dialogue.
“You never get safety and security with weapons. The more you have weapons the more difficult it is to get safety and security…Today we are forging another chapter in Columbia; we are forging a chapter of peace.”
Bishop John Arnold of the Diocese of Salford said;
“After everything you have been through and experienced, I’m delighted, surprised and so grateful that you are actually here. We aren’t talking about victory and peace; we’re talking about peace and reconciliation.”
Prayer has been able to facilitate an open dialogue which has facilitated the road to peace. Peace has led to prosperity within Colombia, evidenced by its continually growing economy.
“We do have the power of prayer.” (Francisco de Roux SJ)
Colombia is a country where 85% of people are baptised Catholics, yet prolonged conflict has affected its spiritual growth. Francisco de Roux SJ passionately declared that Colombia is facing a spiritual problem as well as a problem of violence.
Francisco de Roux SJ, A Peace Advocate for Colombia, said:
“I invite you to pray, there is a spiritual problem in many places in the world. A spiritual problem is something you have to pray to Jesus to change.”
We invite you to join Francisco de Roux and pray for peace.