Msgr. Francisco Ceballos, Redemptorist bishop, assists in the release of a hostage in Colombia


This is how I celebrated the feast of the foundation of the Congregation –

Msgr Francisco Ceballos CSSR, bishop of Riohacha, Colombia, shares with the Scala News the excellent news about the release of Luis Manuel Díaz, who was kidnapped.

When the news of the kidnapping of Luis Manuel Díaz, father of the famous Colombian player Luis Díaz, who plays for Liverpool in the English football league, became known, the whole world followed this unpleasant episode with special attention and concern, as well as anger, because the kidnapping is a flagrant violation of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The forces of the State immediately mobilised to rescue the kidnapped man by order of the President of the Republic of Colombia; even the Director of the National Police, General Salamanca, undertook the operation to free Luis Manuel, with his best men and women of the police institution, accompanied by the National Army. On the other hand, the Attorney General’s Office took on the task of searching for the kidnappers with immediate results.

This event moved the believers in God to raise fervent pleas for the prompt release of “Mane” because from faith, we have the certainty that although human mediations are important to achieve our purposes, they are not enough because the ingredient ofgracee is missing, that is, the help of God because faith gives us the certainty that “if the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the masons weary themselves. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Psalm 126,1). Yes, human effort and God’sgracee should never be lacking in the believer’s daily life.

On November 9r, while I was in Valledupar, I got up to thank God for the 291 years of foundation of my Congregation, for my Redemptorist vocation and for the charism of abundant redemption, but I also thanked God for the mission that I was about to undertake in the name of the Church: to serve as mediator to obtain the freedom of a human being who was under the yoke of kidnapping. In the Lauds prayer, I thought that this was a very special way, and a very Redemptorist way, of celebrating another anniversary of the foundation of the Institute. The founding biblical text confirmed for me that, like Jesus, I was also being called “to proclaim liberation to the captives… to set the oppressed free” (cf. Lk 4 18).

From the mountains of the Perijá Sierra, bordering Venezuela, the UN and the Catholic Church gave a report of victory to the world: Luis Manuel had been freed. Everyone, both in Barrancas, the kidnapped man’s homeland, and throughout the world, celebrated his release with joy, even though the physical and psychological effects of the kidnapping continue to be felt by Luis Manuel. It is difficult to heal the remaining effects of the kidnapping, as his memories will linger in his memory for the rest of his life.

At the end of November 9, I went to sleep tired but with the satisfaction of having done my duty. At the time of the Compline prayer, I make a commitment to continue to pray for the early release of the 241 anonymous hostages who are still in the hands of their captors.

After this episode, the Colombian government commits to use its armed institutions, its intelligence agencies and, of course, dialogue with the kidnappers, whatever their names are, to free everyone from the hands of the kidnappers because in Colombia there cannot be first and second class hostages, since they are all human beings and Colombians, regardless of their condition or social stratum. Therefore they deserve efforts to achieve their prompt freedom.

I ask the kidnappers to understand that the human being is not a commodity, not a means to satisfy needs. To them, the whole of Colombia asks them to free all of them. As long as this happens, I will continue to pray to God until the freedom of all human beings becomes customary.

With the release of Luis Manuel, I celebrated the founding feast of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, physically far from my fellow Redemptorists in Uribia, but spiritually very close to the Redemptorists of the world.