Bogotá, 30th August 2017

Press Release – Pope Francis’ Visit

Due to a number of enquiries received recently on the opinion held by several atheist NGO’s on Pope Francis’ visit [to Colombia], the organisations Bogotá Atea (Atheist Bogotá) and the Bogotá Atheist Association assert to the public opinion that:

  1. We appreciate any national or international gesture supporting peace in Colombia.
  2. We have apprehensions about the apostolic visit by Pope Francis having been financially supported with public funds. In a secular state, such as Colombia, the State interventions must not convey any sort of penchant or proclivity towards any religious creed whatsoever, thus ensuring neutrality.
  3. The rather lofty expenses disbursed with the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit, circa ten million Colombian pesos (over £2,600) per minute, are utterly disproportionate for a country which has overlooked highly important areas such as science (which is facing an imminent 40% budget cut by the government). We baulk and object the fact that the State is subsidising religion whilst neglecting science.
  4. We reject the statements often issued by Pope Francis throughout his pastoral visits, in which he attacks and opposes the progress in SRHR, euthanasia and LGBTQI+ and women’s rights. We kindly request he comply with the separation of Church and State in Colombia, steering clear of inappropriately exerting influence on the Colombian State.
  5. We denounce that the incitements towards social justice beckoned by Pope Francis are yet to be materialised within the Catholic Church in Colombia, as is the case with the sharp refusal and legal offensive by the Church declining to indemnify the victims of sexual abuse perpetuated by priests in the cities of Líbano (Tolima), Cali and Manizales. We encourage the Church to take the first step towards reconciliation acknowledging its civil responsibility as an institution regarding those distressing cases.
  6. We uphold the initiative of apologising for the Catholic Church’s implication in the violent episodes Colombia has undergone in the past. There is, however, a strong inconsistency in the beatification of Pedro María Ramírez, ‘incendiary priest who, straight from the rectory, used to deliver weapons to the “godos” [members of the Conservative Party] to dispose of liberals.’

The following contacts are available to elaborate on the previous points:

Bogotá Atheist Association – Paola Nieto (57) 319 580 1057

Bogotá Atea – Jorge González – (57) 314 263 0285

Bogotá Atea – Ferney Rodríguez – (57) 321 457 1038