During his visit to Villavicencio in September 2017, the Holy Father urged Colombia "to open your heart as the people of God, allow yourself to be reconciled! Colombians, don't be afraid to ask and offer forgiveness. Don't resist reconciliation in order to come together, to re-encounter each other as brothers and sisters and overcome enmities. Now is the time to heal wounds."
The pope's trip was largely the result of the country's ongoing peace process between the government and Colombia's largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
After more than six decades of conflict, a peace deal was finally struck in August 2016, de-escalating a conflict which since 1964 has left some 260,000 people dead and an estimated 7 million displaced.
In preparing for the day of reconciliation, Bishop Álvarez Botero reflected, "Let us be convinced, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that reconciliation with God, with our brothers and sisters, with ourselves and with nature is the path we must take to reach peace."
He urged Catholics not to grow tired of praying for reconciliation "and peace for our country, because they are a gift that only comes from Jesus Christ, who gave his life on the Cross to heal our wounds and to knock down the wall that separates us, hatred."
The bishop encouraged people to make "a serious commitment to reconciliation" in order to "eradicate from our personal and communal life all that which divides and separates us, which leads us to violence and death."