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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 16, 2000
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and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 15Apr00

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

Religions Condemn Bombings of LDS Church Buildings
Salt Lake Tribune 13Apr00 N1
By Bob Mims: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Colombian police are looking to the National Liberation Army (ELN) for setting bombs that exploded three Mormon chapels in Cali, a city with a population of 2 million. The chapels belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No injuries were reported. A fourth bomb was found, but never went off. Police are blaming Marxist rebels who may have been influenced by radical Catholic priests. The accusation drew swift condemnation Wednesday from Mormon and Roman Catholic officials in Utah.

"We are saddened to learn that three of our chapels have been slightly damaged by terrorist bombs in Columbia. Gratefully, the explosions caused no injuries," said Dale Bills, spokesman for the LDS church. "Such misdirected attacks do nothing but temporarily deprive Colombian citizens of a place to worship God as their conscience directs."

The LDS church will make no further comments on the details of the attacks, which remain under investigations by Colombian authorities. No decision has been made to move the 800 Mormon missionaries that are currently serving in Colombia. "The church is closely monitoring the situation," Bills said.

Bishop George Niederauer, of the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese, expressed shock and outrage at the possibility of any involvement by local priests. "I would join all other Christians and religious leaders in condemning violence of any sort against our brothers and sisters, who are all God's children," said the leader of over 200,000 Utah Catholics.

The National Liberation Army (ELN) was alledged to have set off an explosion that killed one man and injured 20 others at a bridge in the Cauca Province along the Pan-American Highway, the same day as the terrorists bombed the chapel.

"The Holy Father [the pope] has pointed out in many documents the special obscenity of violence which seems to be motivated by religious differences," Niederauer said. "In the name of God, who gave life to all men, women and children, they take the lives of people." In May, 1999, the ELN was linked to extremists when its guerillas kidnapped 160 worshippers from a Catholic Mass in Cali. The hostages were later released after ransoms were collected.

Civil war has raged sporadically in Colombia for more than three decades. The LDS Church has four missions and a temple in Bogota. There are currently about 129,000 members in Colombia.


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