The Colombian lawyer Clara Rojas, who was held hostage by the rebel group FARC for six years, attended Pope Benedict XVI’s Wednesday General Audience this week and recalled that during her years of captivity, she listened to John Paul II on a Catholic radio station, which helped her to regain her faith and to have the strength to carry on.
Speaking to the Efe news agency, Rojas, who was at St. Peter’s with her mother and her son, said she came to Rome to thank the Catholic Church for supporting her and to raise awareness that the FARC still holds some 3,000 people hostage, including some 25 soldiers.
Although she did speak personally with Pope Benedict, she said that “seeing him up close” was “emotional,” and that on Thursday she would be meeting with Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.
Rojas said she is convinced of the need to raise public awareness about the plight of the hostages in Colombia and that she hopes her meeting with the cardinal will bring more attention to the issue. “The hostages need to know that we carry them in our hearts and that we are fighting for the release,” she said.
Recalling her experience during the years in which she was in captivity, Rojas said that in the jungles of Colombia she would listen to the voice of John Paul II on Catholic radio and that she often prayed the rosary with him. She regained her faith during those years, which she said gave her the strength to carry on.
Clara Rojas was kidnapped on February 23, 2002, together with Ingrid Betancourt 600 kilometers south of Bogota in an area controlled by the FARC. She was rescued on January 10, 2008 in the southeastern region of Guaviare.