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24 November 2017

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09/10/2017 VATICAN – COLOMBIA

Pope in Colombia: working for the dignity of everyone, especially the poor and the excluded

From Cartagena, on the last stop of his visit to Colombia, Francis made an appeal “for the rejection of all violence in political life” in Venezuela. He also visited the shrine of Saint Peter Claver, ‘the slave of the blacks forever” who “witnessed in a formidable way to the responsibility and care that we should have for one another.”

Cartagena (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis on the last day of his visit to Colombia made an appeal “for the rejection of all violence in political life” in Venezuela and “to work to promote the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, particularly the poor and the excluded of society, those who are abandoned, immigrants, and those who suffer violence and human trafficking.”

Upon his arrival in Cartagena shortly after 10 am, local time, Francis was met with the same enthusiasm that he has encountered since he landed. As he leaned out to greet the people, the pontiff bumped his head against a vertical bar of the popemobile’s roof. It was nothing serious, but he could later be seen with a small patch on his face.

In the Parish of St Francis, one of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods, the pontiff blessed the first stones of two facilities for a homeless group and Talitha Kum, an international network of religious sisters who fight against human trafficking. The pope also visited the home of Mrs Lorenza (pictured), a 77-year-old woman who has worked for more than 50 years in the community kitchen.

During the visit to the parish, Francis recited a prayer: “Let us pray. Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of mercy, Who in your Son You have given us an admirable example of charity and through Him you have strongly recommended to us the commandment to love; fill with your blessings these servants of yours, who wish to devote themselves generously to the help of their brothers; so that, in urgent needs, they may serve you faithfully and fully in the person of their neighbor. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

“The Lord teaches us through the example of the humble”

The pope’s second stop in Cartagena was at the church that holds the relics of Saint Peter Claver, the “apostle of the blacks”. Before reciting the Angelus, Francis said he “blessed the first stones of two institutions that will minister to the those most in need, and I visited the house of Mrs Lorenza, who daily welcomes many of our brothers and sisters, offering them food and affection.  These visits have done me much good because they demonstrate how the love of God is made visible each day.”

“As we pray the Angelus, recalling the incarnation of the Word, we also reflect on Mary who conceived Jesus and brought him into the world.  We look to her this morning under the title of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá. As you well know, over a long period of time this image was abandoned, discoloured, torn and full of holes. It was treated like an old piece of cloth, shown no respect, and finally discarded.”

“And so, this woman became a model for all those who, in different ways, seek to restore the dignity of our brothers and sisters lost through the pain of life’s wounds, to restore the dignity of those who are excluded. She is a model for all those who make efforts to provide dignified accommodation and care to those most in need. She is, above all, a model for all those who pray perseveringly so that the men and women who are suffering may regain the splendour of the children of God which they have been robbed of.”

“The Lord teaches us through the example of the humble and those who are not valued. While he gave María Ramos, an ordinary woman, the grace to receive the image of the Blessed Virgin in its poor and torn state, he also granted to the indigenous Isabel and her son Miguel the grace of being the first to see the transformed and renewed fabric of the Blessed Virgin. They were the first to look humbly upon this completely renewed piece of fabric and recognize there the radiance of divine light which transforms and renews all things.”

Saint Peter Claver, “slave of the blacks forever”

“In this church, we will pray to Mary, who referred to herself as “the handmaid of the Lord”, and to Saint Peter Claver, the “slave of the blacks forever”, as he wanted others to know him from the day of his solemn profession. He waited for the ships from Africa to arrive at the New World’s main centre of commerce in slavery. Given the impossibility of verbal communication due to the language difference, he often ministered to these slaves simply through evangelizing gestures. He knew that the language of charity and mercy was understood by all. Indeed, charity helps us to know the truth and truth calls for acts of kindness. Whenever he felt revulsion towards the slaves, he kissed their wounds.”

“Saint Peter Claver was austere and charitable to the point of heroism. After consoling hundreds of thousands of people in their loneliness, he spent the last four years of his life in sickness and confined to his cell which was in a terrible state of neglect.”

In fact, “Saint Peter Claver witnessed in a formidable way to the responsibility and care that we should have for one another. Furthermore, this saint was unjustly accused of being indiscreet in his zealousness and he faced strong criticism and persistent opposition from those who feared that his ministry would undermine the lucrative slave trade.”

“Here in Colombia and in the world millions of people are still being sold as slaves; they either beg for some expressions of humanity, moments of tenderness, or they flee by sea or land because they have lost everything, primarily their dignity and their rights.”

“María de Chiquinquirá and Peter Claver invite us to work to promote the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, particularly the poor and the excluded of society, those who are abandoned, immigrants, and those who suffer violence and human trafficking. They all have human dignity because they are living images of God. We all are created in the image and likeness of God, and the Blessed Virgin holds each one of us in her arms as her beloved children.”

After the Marian prayer, the pope turned his thoughts to Venezuela. “From this city, known as the seat of human rights, I appeal for the rejection of all violence in political life and for a solution to the current grave crisis, which affects everyone, particularly the poorest and most disadvantaged of society. May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for all the world’s needs and for every one of her children.”

“I greet those who have come here from different places, as well as all those who are following my visit on the radio and television. I wish you all a blessed Sunday. And please, do not forget to pray for me.”






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