Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | November 25, 2010

The Catholic Church in Colombia

We are celebrating Thanksgiving, and the pilgrims who arrived on the American shores escaping religious persecution. Guerrilla groups are the main threat to religious freedom in Colombia, according to a report from the U.S. State Department.

Illegal armed groups, especially the FARC, threatened or attacked religious officials for opposing the forced recruitment of minors, promoting human rights, assisting internally displaced persons, and discouraging coca cultivation. Influential NGO’s, tied or funded by the Catholic Church, push for a negotiated end to the armed conflict.

The Catholic Church, mainly through the Social Pastoral Agency, is sometimes the only institutional presence in rural areas and therefore conducts important social work.

“Although the 1991 constitution mandates separation of church and state, the Catholic Church retains a de facto privileged status,” states the report.

And this is where I have a problem with church and state, and the Catholic Church—

In these rural areas, the Catholic Church encourages women not to use birth control. (Read: forbids women from using birth control.) Already poor families end up with a dozen children they cannot properly care for. And because there are no adequate health services available, there occur too many death-threatening births. Remember the story of how Clara Rojas gave birth to Emmanuelle? A FARC woman performed the C-section with a dirty rusted kitchen knife. Emmanuel was yanked out and his arm was hurt. He suffered from leishmaniasis caused by insect bites; he was malnourished.

In Colombia, because of the influence of the Catholic Church, women can be imprisoned for up to four and a half years for having abortions even in cases of rape or when their lives are at risk.


  1. This article is not well researched.

    • Hello: It’s a blog post, not an article. Its intention was to raise the issue of the role of the Catholic Church. Perhaps you are well-versed in the subject, and I’d love to hear about it. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Have a great day! – Paula

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