During a press conference after her audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday at Castel Gandolfo, former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt revealed that during her captivity deep in the Amazon jungle, “amidst my desperation and sadness I heard the Pope’s voice on the radio pronouncing my name.” His voice, she said, “was like a light.”
Before some 200 journalists, diplomats and Italian officials, Betancourt said that after telling her story of captivity, the Holy Father told her, “You learned to pray to God because you asked that his will be done.”
“After a very long and harsh march over difficult terrain, and under the weight of all the equipment, at six in the afternoon I was able to rest, and amidst my desperation and sadness I heard the Pope’s voice on the radio pronouncing my name. It’s difficult to describe the psychological effect of that on a prisoner,” Betancourt said according to AFP.
“When we were in the jungle and we thought we no longer existed, the voice of the Pope was like a light. Therefore when I was freed I wanted to come to see him and embrace him. Today, that dream was fulfilled,” she said.
Betancourt explained that she slowly began drawing close to God again through the Bible. “On June 1, while I was listening to Radio Catolica Mundial”—EWTN’s Spanish language radio broadcast—“someone was talking about a saint to whom Jesus had made some promises on the condition that she surrendered herself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” Betancourt said overwhelmed by tears and drawing the applause of those gathered.
“The three conditions he asked [of the saint] were the same for me. I said to myself, Jesus I ask you for the miracle not of my release, but of knowing when I will be released because that gives the strength to go on. If the miracle happens, I will be yours,” she said.
“I told the Pope I didn’t know what it meant to be Christ’s, and he answered that He will show me the way,” Betancourt continued. “If you all understand how to talk to him, that will help you as well,” she said to the crowd.
“The Bible has all the answers and all the solutions,” she said after promising that she would not stop fighting to get all the hostages in Colombia and throughout the world released.
Call for peace in Colombia
Ingrid Betancourt also took the opportunity to “send a message to Alfonso Cano, Jorge Briceno, Ivan Marquez, and Joaquin Gomez (the leaders of the FARC). I would like to say to you that the whole world is watching and wants to see room in your hearts for love and forgiveness, just as there is my heart, where there is love and forgiveness.”
“The vicious circle of hatred and violence must be broken. You held me captive for seven years, I know you, your organization, your way of thinking and your objectives very well, and today I want to tell you that the world is hoping for peace in Colombia, that you leave your rifles and death behind,” she added.
“If you want things to change in Colombia, you should work through the democratic means under the protection of the law and the Constitution, respecting the rights all Colombians, of those who think like you and those of us who don’t think like you,” Betancourt said.
She ended by saying that after seven years in captivity as “a victim of uncertainty and war,” she feels her mission now is “to speak for those who have no voice.”