Pope Francis visit to Colombia to anoint peace process

Vastavam web: Pope Francis launches an emotionally charged visit next week to Colombia, to call for reconciliation as the country emerges from Latin America’s longest civil war in a contested peace process.In his fourth visit to his native region of the world since becoming pope four years ago, the 80-year-old Argentine now heads to one of Latin America’s most troubled countries.Colombia’s biggest guerrilla group, the FARC, has disarmed under a historic peace accord, though critics say the rebels are getting off too lightly.
“It is true that the pope is coming to a very polarised country, but he knows that all Colombians desire peace, in the spirit of unity and justice,” said Monsignor Octavio Ruiz, a member of the papal delegation.”Such a peace is only possible if the causes of social injustice, inequality and oppression are tackled.” Meanwhile Colombia’s last remaining rebel force, the 1,500-strong ELN, hopes to announce a ceasefire as it holds its own peace talks with the government.
Colombians narrowly rejected the peace deal in a referendum last year.Pope Francis tried unsuccessfully to mediate between President Juan Manuel Santos and the lead opponent of the accord, conservative leader Alvaro Uribe.With the peace deal raising bitter debate about justice and compensation for victims, Francis is expected to talk to Colombians about reconciliation.The slogan of his visit is “Let’s take the first step”.”Taking the first step means recognising the suffering of others and forgiving those who have hurt us,” said the Colombian bishop heading the organising committee for the trip, Fabio Suescun.