- Jun 3, 2020
When Pope Francis visited a Colombian airbase in September, he greeted soldiers and police officers maimed during the war. When the pope walked by Edwin Restrepo, a retired marine, and shook his hand, the marine asked for the pope’s blessing and asked him to take his military cap. Francis has now sent him a letter saying he held on to the cap during his trip to Colombia because it reminded him of the “sacrifice” and “patriotism” of Colombian soldiers.
Pope Francis told a group of Jesuits in Colombia that many of the commentaries on his post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the family, ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ are “respectable because they were made by children of God,” but they are “wrong.” To those who maintain that the morality underlying the document is not “a Catholic morality,” the pope said, “I want to repeat clearly that the morality of ‘Amoris Laetitia’ is Thomist.”
Recalling Colombia’s tragic 52-year armed conflict, which was responsible for the deaths of more than 220,000 people, Pope Francis said during his general audience that while the country was torn apart, its strong Christian roots “constituted a guarantee of peace, the solid foundation of its reconstruction and the lifeblood of its invincible hope.”
At the end of his morning mass in Villavicencio, Colombia, Pope Francis prayed for victims of Hurricane Irma and Thursday’s earthquake in Mexico. The pope asked those in attendance also to remember his intentions in their own prayers.
In an address to the leaders of Latin America’s continent-wide church council, CELAM, Pope Francis urged them to take forward Aparecida’s ‘continental mission’ by expanding the role of young people, women and lay people. Only well-formed lay believers could rise to the continent’s challenges.
The Friday meeting and prayer of reconciliation are perhaps the highlights of Francis’s five-day visit to Colombia, bringing together some 6,000 victims of the conflict as well as former guerrillas and members of state security forces. At the event will be Bojaya’s Christ statue — perhaps the most powerful reminder of the senseless political violence that left an estimated 220,000 people dead.