Church works for peace in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia -- The Catholic Church in Colombia is actively involved in efforts to bring peace between the government and leftist rebels who have been engaged in a half-century-long war, said a Washington-based priest who recently visited the predominantly Catholic nation.

Father Juan Molina, director of the U.S. bishops' Office for the Church in Latin America, said he was impressed by the church's involvement in efforts to reach a settlement between the warring parties.

The rebels claimed they are defending the interests of the country's poor but finance their campaign through the drug trade, kidnapping and extortion. They also have been accused of widespread human rights abuses.

The Colombian government has been criticized for favoring a military solution to the conflict over negotiations while also committing human rights abuses. The government has argued that its actions are aimed at maintaining order and stability to protect the rights of citizens and private companies.

Colombian bishops fight same-sex adoption

BOGOTA, Colombia -- The Colombian bishops' conference is campaigning against the possibility of legalized adoption by same-sex couples.

"We Catholics oppose allowing minors to be given in adoption to couples composed of people of the same sex and reject a possible decision of the Constitutional Court in that sense," Bogota Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, conference president, said in a statement read at Masses April 17, Palm Sunday.

The statement laid out four arguments against same-sex adoptions. It argued that Colombia's Constitution defines a family as a man, woman and children; that most Colombians oppose adoptions by same-sex couples; that scientific studies have questioned how having "parents" of the same sex affects children's development; and that adoption is not a right for couples, but intended to benefit the child.

Gay rights activists dispute those points and attended Palm Sunday Mass wearing shirts with statements such as "I am gay, I'm Catholic and I have children" and "Homophobia is not Christian."