Francis urged them to institute just laws in order to promote peace and overcome the country's decades-long conflict.
Referencing Evangelii Gaudium, he said that we need laws "which are not born from the pragmatic need to order society," but from the "desire to resolve the structural causes of poverty that lead to exclusion and violence."
"Only in this way can there be healing of the sickness that brings fragility and lack of dignity to society, leaving it always vulnerable to new crises. Let us not forget that inequality is the root of social ills," he said.
In the speech, Pope Francis also pointed out Colombia's great biodiversity, considered second in the world, and which he said requires careful respect.
The nation is blessed in many ways, he said, including in the beauty of its nature: "traveling through this land one can taste and see how good the Lord has been in bestowing such immense variety of flora and fauna..."
He also noted the vibrancy of the country's culture and people. Just as St. Peter Claver, the Spanish missionary, first saw Colombia with amazement, we too are amazed at its landscape and its inhabitants, the Pope said.
Let us stop to recognize, in particular, all those who have no voice: the weakest, the oppressed and maltreated, as well as the contribution of women, he said. "Ladies and Gentlemen, you have before you a fine and noble mission, which is also a difficult task," he emphasized.
Concluding, the Pope quoted from the acceptance speech of Colombian author and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, who said in spite of the difficulty of the task, "Before oppression, plundering and abandonment, we respond with life."
"Neither floods nor plagues, famines nor cataclysms, nor even the unending wars down the centuries, have been able to subdue the tenacious advantage of life over death. An advantage which is both increasing and accelerating."
"We do not want any type of violence whatsoever to restrict or destroy one more life. I have wanted to come here to tell you that you are not alone, that there are many of us who accompany you in taking this step; this visit intends to offer you an incentive, a contribution that in some way paves the path to reconciliation and peace," he said.
"You are in my prayers. I pray for you, for Columbia's present and future."
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