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COLOMBIA: Religious Peace?

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Hope rose last week for a truce in Colombia’s bitter religious strife. A Colombian Catholic, José Maria Chaves, 29, now teaching at Queens College, New York, and worried about anti-Protestant violence in his homeland, suggested a formula for peace. Its gist: Protestants should agree to a missionary quota, stop publicizing persecution unless new attacks occur, limit preaching to churches, avoid attacking Catholic dogmas and priests. The Roman Catholic Church and the pro-Catholic government should agree to denounce and punish anti-Protestant assaults, guarantee freedom of worship.

Such an agreement, Chaves hoped, would make the missions of some 30,000 Protestants acceptable in the predominantly Catholic country of 11 million, and cool off inflamed passions which have, during the past three years, brought death to 25 Protestants, hundreds of attacks on them, and the stoning, burning and dynamiting of their churches.

In Bogotá, Foreign Minister Juan Uribe Holguin promised a government statement on Chaves’ plan. Most Colombia Protestants seemed likely to support it, though a few sects might demand complete freedom or martyrdom. Colombia’s Catholic hierarchy would probably cast the decisive vote for or against tolerance.

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