(ENI) The cease-fire by Basque separatist group ETA will need to be accompanied by justice and forgiveness if it is to achieve a lasting peace, a group of Spanish evangelical Christians has said, while the leader of Spain’s Roman Catholics has urged politicians to unite and work for peace.
The Evangelical Council of Madrid said the time had come for Spanish evangelicals to speak out in theological language that may pave the way towards peace, even at the risk of being called “naïve.”
A statement by the Evangelical Alliance of Spain (AEE) — the oldest interdenominational evangelical organization in the country, founded in 1877 — asked for justice and forgiveness so that peace may be attained.
“As Christians, we know about the great regenerating power of forgiveness, which is perfectible compatible with justice, although totally contrary to revenge,” said the AEE without referring specifically to any group.
“The unity of rulers and political representatives, society’s collaboration, patient work, open mindedness and hope that sustains the journey are good guarantees to reach the goal of full peace,” said Bishop Ricardo Blazquez of Bilbao, the president of the Spanish (Catholic) Bishops’ Conference, told journalists on March 27. He said the church was prepared to contribute to this goal in any way it could.
Separately in a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain (Ferede), expressed its hope that this time the end to violence would be final.
ETA (which stands for “Basque Homeland and Freedom” in the Basque language, was founded in 1959. It has killed about 850 people and fomented street violence in its campaign for the creation of an independent socialist state separate from France and Spain for the Basque people, who straddle the two countries.