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Pope condemns Colombian Archbishop's murder

Pope John Paul II has condemned the murder of Archbishop Isaías Duarte Cancino of Cali, Colombia, an outspoken critic of drug traffickers, guerrillas and paramilitary forces.

Archbishop Duarte Cancino was killed on Saturday as he left Good Shepherd Church, in one of Cali's poorest neighbourhoods. He had just presided over the celebration of some 100 marriages.

Addressing pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, John Paul II described the archbishop in Spanish as a "generous and courageous pastor in announcing the Good News."

The Pope said the archbishop paid with "such a high price his energetic defense of human life, his firm opposition to all kinds of violence, and his dedication to social development as rooted in the Gospel."

"While I offer prayers for the eternal rest of the deceased prelate and express my closeness to the Colombian Church that weeps over his tragic demise, I exhort Colombians once again to continue on the paths of dialogue," the Pope said, after praying the midday Angelus.

The Holy Father appealed to Colombians to reject "all kinds of violence, blackmail and the kidnapping of people," and to commit themselves to "authentic ways of peace."

Colombia has endured 38 years of civil war. Some 40,000 people have died over the past decade alone. Archbishop Duarte Cancino, 63, had said that some of the campaigns in the recent legislative elections were tainted by drug money.



19 Mar 2002