Archbishop of Bogotá: ‘It’s Our Duty to Be Bishops During Difficult Times’ in Colombia

Archbishop Rueda recalled that ‘the Church that goes out on mission is above all a Church of servants out of love, servants of the Kingdom of God.’

Archbishop Luis José Rueda Aparicio
Archbishop Luis José Rueda Aparicio (photo: Courtesy photo / Archdiocese of Bogotá)

The president of the Colombian bishops’ conference and archbishop of Bogotá, Luis José Rueda Aparicio, said during his opening address to the bishops’ plenary assembly July 4 that “it’s our duty to be bishops and pastors of the Church in Colombia in difficult times” that test the ability to continue sowing hope among the people.

The bishop’s 113th plenary assembly began July 4 and will conclude July 8. The Colombian bishops will examine the national summary of the Synod on Synodality, convened by Pope Francis.

In his address, Archbishop Rueda asked the bishops: “How can we be witnesses to the hope of the Kingdom when laws go against the value of human life, especially in the stages of greater fragility such as the phase in the womb or the end-of-life phase?”

The archbishop said that “they can classify us as naïve promoters of hope. But hope is a theological virtue.”

“If we cultivate hope, people and communities find the meaning of life and the strength to advance along the paths of the Kingdom of God,” he said.

“The ecclesial, social, and environmental moment in which the country finds itself,” the prelate noted, “requires from the bishops three human and Christian attitudes that shape our apostolic ministry today: discernment, service, and hope.”

Discernment, he explained, “is proper to those who have decided to follow Jesus.” He pointed out that Christ doesn’t give a precise direction but rather challenges his disciples to set out on the way, because “he prefers that we advance and learn, that we have the experience of following him.”

“Following leads us out of vanity,” which leads to self-sufficiency, when Christ requires humility, he said.

Discernment “facilitates the service we have as a Church to be a seed and expand the Kingdom of God present in earthly realities,” he said.

Archbishop Rueda recalled that “the Church that goes out on mission is above all a Church of servants out of love, servants of the Kingdom of God.”

Christ “spoke of service and revealed himself with the sincere actions of a servant,” he said. “He taught his disciples that, although the great ones of the world lord it over others, the relationships of his disciples won’t be like that. These must be different; they will be distinguished by always looking for the last place, the place of servants.”

Archbishop Rueda noted that “evangelization is, above all, a work of service to a wounded humanity; it is to bring the vitality of the good news to the whole world, like leaven in the dough.”

“The figure that Pope Francis teaches us about the Church as a field hospital is beautiful and challenging; the Samaritan and merciful Church has a vital, close, supportive presence,” he said.

Archbishop Rueda invited his fellow bishops to “return to the joy of service” because “it liberates from the trappings of self-sufficiency” and that “when the Church sees itself in an attitude of service it becomes more attractive, more convincing, less institutional, and more missionary.”

“Brother bishops, let’s ask ourselves these days if we are being seen as servants of the kingdom, after the manner of Jesus of Nazareth or Mary who set out to offer her time, her greeting, and her faith with joy and generosity,” he said.

Archbishop Rueda encouraged the bishops to listen to each particular Church during the plenary assembly because it is in them “and in the communion of the ecclesiastical province where it is discerned with greater clarity what the Lord wants from us."

“Let us allow ourselves to be renewed by the Holy Spirit! We are called to journey in missionary synodality. The People of God asks us bishops to lead the communal discernment, service driven by love, realistic and hopeful serenity,” he said.