Bogotá, Colombia, Sep 4, 2017 / 12:44 pm
Two days ahead of his symbolic visit to Colombia, Pope Francis sent a video message to the nation, telling citizens he comes as a pilgrim of hope, and urging them to continue working toward peace and dialogue in the nation.
“I feel honored to visit this land rich in history, culture, faith, and men and women who have worked with determination and perseverance so that it may be a place where harmony and brotherhood reign,” the Pope said in Spanish in his video message.
Colombians, he said, have worked so that their land might be a place “where the Gospel is known and loved, where to say brother and sister isn’t something strange, but a true treasure to defend and protect.”
Above all, especially given the country’s turbulent past, the Pope stressed that “the world today needs consultants of peace and dialogue.”
The message was published Sept. 4, just two days before the Pope is set to depart on a six-day trip to Colombia. The visit will include stops in four cities, including Bogotá, Villavicencio, Medellín, and Cartagena, and marks the Argentinian Pope's third tour of South America since his election in 2013.
Pope Francis’ visit also comes just one year after a peace accord was signed between the Colombian government and the country's largest rebel group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in August 2016.
After its initial rejection in an Oct. 2 referendum, a revised agreement was signed Nov. 24 and was subsequently approved by Colombia's Congress on Nov. 30, this time bypassing a popular vote.
Since 1964, as many as 260,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the civil war.