23.X.14, apertura

One thousand people participated in the International Conference “Respect for life, the way to peace” that was held on 23rd-24th October 2014 at the Bolivarian Pontifical University of Medellin, Colombia. The University was founded in 1936 and has 25 thousands students.

Through a message signed by the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and addressed to the president of the Ratzinger Foundation Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti, Pope Francis greeted the organizers of the Conference and its participants. He wished that “we could reflect on the great connection between peace and respect for human life, as the Church has taught, because all men and women have to share the wish for peace and keep it in their hearts.

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI sent his greetings to the Conference of Medellin. He stated that the theme of the Conference is “a matter of great relevance.” “In fact, the commitment to peace - so crucial in a world that is full violence - begins with the unconditional respect of human life, created in the image of God and made of absolute dignity”, said Benedict XVI. “The faith in God the Creator is the foundation of human dignity and an essential part of any state of law.” The themes of peace and respect for life are connected to the faith in God the Creator as the real guarantee of our dignity”.

In his introduction to the conference, Giuseppe Antonio Scotti declared that “we all know that Pope Paul VI – beatified a few days ago – came to Bogota in 1968 and inaugurated the second General Conference of the Latin American episcopate, that was then held in Medellin. “At the beginning of the meeting, I think it is important to remember that, at the end of the 1960s, Latin American Church shared the content of the Second Vatican Council that ended three years before, in 1965” he added. He also noticed that “today, as it happened in 1968, Medellin seems to be a good occasion for the future again. Peace is the way for the future. A way that belongs to the Church, but also to the whole society” Msgr. Scotti concluded.

belisario betancour

After the greetings of Julio Jairo Ceballos Sepúlveda, rector of the Bolivarian Pontifical University, the programme includes the relations of the archbishop of Medellin Ricardo Tobón Restrepo on the theme “Respect for life: the way to peace”; the Dominican archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, on “The Church and the love for life”; Msgr. Luis Romera Oñate, magnificent rector of the Pontifical University of Santa Cruz and President of the Conference of Rectors of the Pontifical Universities of Rome, on the anthropological aspects of a culture of peace; the archbishop Ettore Balestrero, apostolic nuncio in Colombia, on the social and political situation in Latin America; Msgr. Elkin Fernando Álvarez Botero, auxiliary bishop of Medellin, on the encyclical “Deus caritas est”; Christian Schaller, awarded with the Ratzinger Prize in 2013; Fr. Mariusz Kucinski, head of the Study Centre Ratzinger-Benedict XVI of Bydgoszcz; Cesar Mauricio Velásquez, member of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission of the Colombian Catholic Church.

Among the participants, there were: the ex president of Colombia Belisario Betancur (in the picture on the left), Msgr. Edgar Aristizábal Quintero, auxiliary bishop of Medellin, Msgr. Luis Fernando Rodríguez Velásquez, auxiliary bishop of Cali, Professor Roman Czakowski, president of the University Kujawy Pomorze of Bydgoszcz.

They will discuss on three different themes: “Socio economic reflections on the way to peace from respect for life”, “Man: an anthropological reflection by Ratzinger” and “Challenges for the development of the civilization of life: John Paul, Benedict XVI and Francis”.