Catholic, Jewish and Muslim representatives in Colombia have signed a historic joint statement for peace in a July 1 ceremony at the residence of the Archbishop of Bogota. Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, Rabbi Alfredo Goldschmidt, and Sheik Ahmad Tayel led the ceremony which included prayer, song and the presentation of commemorative plaques. The three representatives concluded the event with the signing of an inter-religious declaration for peace. Lamenting the “rivalries” that have existed between different faith groups throughout history, Cardinal Salazar noted that Pope Francis “wanted to make a gesture of reconciliation from Rome between two enemies who today seem to be irreconcilable: Israel and Palestine.” “In imitation of this gesture, the community has come together for a time of prayer to pray for peace in the whole world, but especially for peace in Colombia,” he said. For his part, Rabbi Alfredo Goldschmidt said the prayer for peace is an opportunity to close the door to the hatred and violence that has fueled Colombia’s decades-long conflict. “It pains us that a group of people disrupt the entire country from living in peace as a society. What happens in Colombia is happening in the Middle East and in many countries of the world,” he said. Colombia’s vice president Argelino Garzon also attended the ceremony and said it was a sign that should motivate all Colombians to work for greater unity. The adjunct secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Father Pedro Mercado Cepeda, said representatives of the three religious communities worked for several months on the statement that calls for a greater commitment to foster peace and reconciliation. “We are on a path of diversity, each one with his different beliefs, which we recognize and respect, but with common goals such as that of peace,” Fr. Mercado said.
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