From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Colombian bishop-elect seeks help from church

Date 15 Feb 2001 07:20:29


Colombian bishop-elect seeks help from church

by Ed Stannard

     (Episcopal Life) The newly elected bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of 
Colombia is looking for partners.

     The Rev. Francisco Duque-Gomez, 50, unanimously elected February 2 on the 
first ballot, would like to break through the isolation he believes Colombia 
suffers from in the church.

     "For 25 years we haven't had a companion-diocese relationship," Duque said 
through an interpreter at the February meeting of Executive Council, of which he 
is a member. "The Diocese of Colombia is a diocese that has too much trouble in 
developing education due to the internal conflict and it's because of that that 
none of the dioceses in the United States want to commit to a very serious 

     The government of Colombia has been locked in a brutal war with leftist 
guerrillas and interminable anti-drug efforts. Colombia is a part of the 
Episcopal Church's Province 9.

     Duque said that the people of his country are in need of virtually all 
social, educational and medical services. Financial and other support from a 
companion diocese would help his diocese to provide those services, he said.

     "My call, my anguish is we don't have support, we don't have help, more for 
lack of knowledge than for interest. People don't know there is a diocese in 
Colombia. People don't know we're a part of the Episcopal Church in the United 

     Among the projects that Duque envisions would be finding alternative crops 
for coca growers, such as potatoes, tomatoes or plantains. Coca is a lucrative 
crop for the country's cocaine traffickers, whose prime customers live in the 
United States. The Colombian government fumigates the coca fields, but no one 
helps those who have depended on coca to feed their families.

     "We don't have an Episcopal school," Duque said. "There is a lot of drugs, a 
lot of addiction. In the end, the Episcopal Church doesn't have any social work 
in the community for two main reasons": the lack of a companion diocese and "a 
budget to invest in this work."

     Duque's consecration is set for July 14. Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold 
will be chief consecrator and four members of Executive Council will attend. 
Duque and his wife, Blanca Lucia, have three daughters.

--Ed Stannard is senior news editor for Episcopal Life.

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home