Bishop Francisco Duque of the Episcopal Church of Colombia said he would like to see more churches in Canada providing Spanish religious services for a growing number of Spanish-speaking immigrants and refugees.
“It’s really important that all displaced refugees get counseling and advice from the church, which is the only organization that has given them security and material support,” said Bishop Duque on a recent visit to Toronto.
There are an estimated 50,000 Colombian immigrants and refugees in Canada, most of them residing in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and London, Ont. Most of the refugees are fleeing the civil war, where they are often caught in the crossfire between government forces and guerrillas.
Three churches in Toronto – St. Stephen-in-the-Fields, San Lorenzo, and San Bernabe – already provide Spanish liturgies.
“Canada is a multi-cultural country. People here are speaking different languages. The church has to be open to this,” said Bishop Duque.
But he lauded the national church and the Canadian government for its commitment to the plight of refugees. “So many lives have been spared,” he said. Bishop Duque also appealed for support for the needs of Colombia’s internal refugees, estimated at 2.5 million.