"A country with strong Christian roots, but where" it is evident that the evil one wanted to divide the people to destroy the work of God. " "Peace is also founded, and perhaps above all, on the blood of many witnesses of love, truth, justice, and even true martyrs, killed for faith," such as Bishop Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve, and Pedro María Ramírez Ramos, a priest, beatified in Villavicencio ".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - With the trip to Colombia "I wanted to bless the people's efforts, to confirm them in faith and hope, and to receive their testimony, which is a wealth for my ministry and for the whole Church."
Pope Francis devoted today's general audience to his recent apostolic journey to a country with strong Christian roots, but where "it is evident that the Evil One wanted to divide the people to destroy the work of God, but it is equally evident that the love of Christ, His infinite mercy is stronger than sin and death. "
Speaking to about 30,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, Francis emphasized in particular the path of reconciliation that "Colombia is living to emerge from half a century of internal conflict, which has sown suffering and enmity, resulting in many injuries that are difficult to heal. But with God's help, the path is now under way. With my visit I wanted to bless the people's effort, confirm them in faith and hope, and receive their testimony, which is a richness for my ministry and for the whole Church. "
The Pope - who also sports the visible "memory" of a black eye from the small incident on Sunday, on the last day of the visit - said, first, that he had felt "continuity with the two popes who visited Colombia before me: Blessed Paul VI, in 1968, and St. John Paul II in 86. A continuity strongly animated by the Spirit, guiding the steps of God's people on the streets of history. "
Recalling that the motto of the trip was 'Demos el primer paso', that is, 'Let's take the first step', referring to the process of reconciliation, Francis added that it "was to bring the blessing of Christ, the blessing of the Church on the desire for life and peace that overflows from the heart of that nation: I could see it in the eyes of the thousands and thousands of children, boys and girls who filled Bogota Square and I met everywhere; that force of life that even nature itself proclaims with its exuberance. In Bogota I was able to meet all the bishops of the country and also the Steering Committee of the Latin American Bishops' Conference. I thank God for having been able to embrace them and have given them my pastoral encouragement, for their mission in the service of the Church, the sacrament of Christ, our peace and our hope. "
"The day devoted specifically to the theme of reconciliation, culminating throughout the trip, took place in Villavicencio. In the morning there was the great Eucharistic celebration, with the beatification of the martyr Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve, bishop, and Pedro María Ramírez Ramos, a priest; in the afternoon, the special liturgy of reconciliation, symbolically oriented towards the Christ of Bocaya, without arms and legs, mutilated like his people. The beatification of the two martyrs mentally reminded us that peace is also founded, and perhaps above all, on the blood of many witnesses of love, truth, justice, and even true martyrs, killed for faith, such as the two just mentioned. Listening to their biographies moved one to tears: tears of pain and at the same time of joy. In front of their relics and faces, the holy faithful People of God have felt their identity strong, with sorrow, thinking of so many, too many victims, and with joy, for the mercy of God stretching over those who fear Him ( cf. Lc 1,50). "Mercy and truth shall meet, and justice and peace shall bow" (Ps. 85,11), we have heard at the beginning. This verse of the psalm contains the prophecy of what happened last Friday in Colombia; the prophecy and the grace of God for that wounded people, so that they may rise and walk in a new life. These prophetic words filled with grace have seen them incarnate in the stories of witnesses who have spoken on behalf of many and many who, by their wounds, with the grace of Christ have come out of themselves and have opened themselves up to the encounter, to forgiveness, to reconciliation. "
Francis travelled to Villavicencio for a visit centred on national reconciliation. During his stay, he beatified a bishop and a priest killed "in hatred of the faith". “In communities where we are still weighed down with patriarchal and chauvinistic customs, it is good to note that the Gospel begins by highlighting women who were influential and made history.”
At Parque Las Malocas, in the presence of the victims of violence, military, police and ex-guerrillas, Pope Francis celebrated the Great Meeting for National Reconciliation. Some victims and two former guerrilla fighters related their testimonies. The land of Colombia is "sacred ground” because it was "watered by the blood of thousands of innocent victims and by the heart-breaking sorrow of their families and friends.”
In his first meeting in the South American country, Francis calls for the inclusion of all citizens, especially the weak, as well as the protection of the family, life and nature. “Just laws are needed” to “help overcome the conflicts that have torn apart this nation for decades; laws are required which are not born from the pragmatic need to order society but rather arise from the desire to resolve the structural causes of poverty that lead to exclusion and violence.”
Pope today tweeted, “Dear Friends, please pray for me and all of Colombia, where I will be travelling for a journey dedicated to reconciliation and peace.” His difficult trip includes several stages.
At the Angelus, Pope Francis explains the "very strong" link between the feast of the first martyr and Christmas. The message of Jesus "challenges worldly religious power and provokes consciences". Stephen’s words of forgiveness to his persecutors, "humanly unthinkable expressions", "possible only because the Son of God came to earth and died and rose for us".