Pope Francis' decision to beatify two Catholic priests who were killed during Colombia’s civil war has been criticized due to their roles in instigating right-wing military violence in the South American country.
Jesus Emilio Jaramillo and Pedro Maria Ramirez will be beatified by Pope Francis Friday on the third day of his visit to Colombia.
The reason given for their beatification is that they died for their “faith,” yet some argue that they were killed for their complicity with right-wing state sponsored violence in a country where, far from neutral peacekeepers, Catholic clergy are renowned for serving the ruling class, making them targets of the opposition.
Ramirez was born to a wealthy family with ties to the ruling class, loyal to the Conservative party. Known for his incendiary masses as a priest, Ramirez would fan hatred towards opponents of the right-wing party, even going as far as saying that Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, the popular progressive leader should be killed.
The priest was killed by supporters of the Liberal Party on April 10, 1948, a day after Jorge Eliecer Gaitan was killed in Bogota. Colombian theologian, Hector A. Torres, has said that Ramirez “was not a martyr of the faith, but of the Conservative party.”
Similarly, Jaramillo had close ties to the ruling Conservative party in the early years of the bloody civil war. In the early 1980s, he was appointed Bishop of Arauca, a region known for conflict between leftist guerrilla movements and the state. Despite warnings, it was reported that Jaramillo would move around with military forces, eventually being killed in a military confrontation with the National Liberation Army.
The canonization, which includes a mass and ceremony to take place in the city of Villavicencio, has raised questions and is seen by some as undermining the pope’s recent role in encouraging the peace agreements between guerrilla groups and the state.