(From left to right). Joaquín Gómez, head of the FARC drug trafficking business; Most Rev. Darío Monsalve, Archbishop of Cali; Iván Márquez, second FARC commander and currently a fugitive; Fr. Francisco de Roux, superior of the Jesuits in Colombia.
The Archbishop of Cali, Most Rev. Darío de Jesús Monsalve, has had many setbacks in the exercise of his controversial pastoral mission. The reason is not the zeal he has shown defending the sheep of his flock, which in evangelical terms corresponds to the duty of a true shepherd to defend his faithful from the many enemies of the Catholic Faith, especially in these times of confusion.
But our archbishop does not stand out in this field because he says little or nothing about the religious crisis in which we Catholics live. He is not concerned any way with the loss of faith of countless Catholics leaving the Church to adhere to various Christian sects that distance themselves from the Sacraments and forget the holy and perennial doctrine of the Church, which no one teaches or proclaims if only because those called to do so have replaced it with a new Marxist “gospel.”
The archbishop’s concerns are very different from those of the true Church. His voice as a pastor of souls only resonates firmly when defending atheistic enemies of our faith, terrorists destroying our nation, and subversive groups that have sown hatred and crime in our sick and decadent society.
Recently, Archbishop Monsalve did not hesitate to ask for the canonization of the apostate priest Camilo Torres, on the 50th anniversary of his death. Around the year 1970, this priest, along with other guerrilla priests such as Domingo Laín and Manuel Pérez, were the founders of the ELN (National Liberation Army). This terrorist organization gained importance lately because so-called FARC dissidents joined it in the false peace process promoted by the previous administration.
When the peace agreements with the FARC were signed, the archbishop did not hesitate to invite the leaders of that organization to attend a spiritual retreat led by him, held in a religious house near Cali. We wonder what advantage the diocesan clergy could have drawn from listening to the terrorist exploits of some of the worst criminals in the nation. Shortly before the plebiscite in which Colombia rejected the FARC Agreements, the archbishop announced that those considering voting against them were not good Catholics. According to him, Christians should accept the country’s capitulation to FARC extortions.
More recently, the archbishop along with Father Francisco de Roux, the Jesuit superior in Colombia, became brokers in a disastrous negotiation with the ELN. This group shows absolutely no signs of wanting peace. Instead, its terrorists have been redoubling their attacks and crimes, such as the car bomb that exploded at the Police School in Bogotá in January 2019, murdering 21 and wounding hundreds of young cadets.
Last week, the fiery archbishop again stirred up controversy by accusing the Colombian government of promoting genocide against the ELN. The statement ignored reality to the point that the Apostolic Nuncio in Colombia, Archbishop Luis Mariano Montemayor, had to speak up to clarify that it wasn’t shared by the other bishops, Vatican authorities, or Pope Francis.
An inexplicable friendship
How to explain such a close friendship between the archbishop and the worst terrorists in Colombia? We do not know. But Most Rev. Monsalve owes the country and the city of Cali a much-needed explanation. His ramblings with these terrorist groups are the object of utter rejection by the faithful of his archdiocese. Also, in the recent past, these subversive groups committed appalling abuses against the very faithful whom Archbishop Monsalve governs. He may have forgotten that in 2002, FARC gunmen vilely assassinated his predecessor in the Archdiocese of Cali, Most Rev. Isaías Duarte as he finished saying a Mass for kidnapping victims — an act of barbarism with few precedents in the long history of the Church.
As if that were not enough, around the same time, the ELN kidnapped about 200 parishioners who were attending a Mass at the La María Church in Cali. Almost simultaneously, they also abducted 50 other people who were chatting in a restaurant on the outskirts of the city. Both terrorist operations were planned with the utmost perfidy; some of those kidnapped were held captive for almost two years, and several were cowardly killed by their captors. In 1989, the ELN had also kidnapped, tortured, and assassinated the Bishop of Arauca (Colombia), Most Rev. Jesús Emilio Jaramillo.
Neither the FARC nor the ELN ever showed the slightest sign of repentance, reparation, or request for forgiveness in the face of these horrifying events. For them, these crimes are legitimate acts in an open war against our society, which they want to destroy in order to impose on us the Marxist system that prevails in Cuba and Venezuela. They want to eliminate people’s freedoms and drive the entire population into misery and oppression. Is this perhaps the gospel that the archbishop preaches? Is this the faith he wants to impose on the Catholic faithful of Cali? Is Archbishop Monsalve’s preferential option the gospel of Marxism, misery, and crime?
Well, that’s what it looks like! And that is precisely what we Catholics in this important Colombian archdiocese, which brings together some four million people with the inhabitants of Cali and surrounding cities, neither want nor accept. Nor do those residents who are not Catholics but see themselves obliged to put up with the foolishness of the prelate.
In these times of confusion and loss of faith, Archbishop Monsalve’s destructive attitudes generate scandal among his faithful. These attitudes are so inappropriate for his office that it seems that the claws and fangs of the wolf that he is, are beginning to protrude from the edges of his episcopal cassock – nor does he care at all to hide them. The reality is that this shepherd, who should feed the flock of Christ, has become a wolf that scatters them and leads them to perdition.
What a terrible and dreadful situation! It would be less serious if there were those within the Church exercised their authority to put things in order, requiring this shepherd to behave as such or, failing that, removing him from office and appointing another who would fulfill the mandate of Our Lord Jesus Christ to Peter, chosen as the head of his apostles: “Feed my sheep” (Jn 21:16).
* Eugenio Trujillo Villegas is Director of the Sociedad Colombiana Tradición y Acción.
Translated by the staff of Fatima Today.
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