Tag - Colombia

Pope in Colombia spells out priorities for the clergy

(Vatican Radio) Some 12,000 priests, men and women religious, consecrated laypeople and seminarians with their families crowded into Medellin’s “La Macarena” event centre on Friday to listen to Pope Francis’ thoughts, proposals and instructions regarding their ministry.

On the podium, the relics of Saint Mother Laura Montoya, a nun who was the first female Colombian Saint. Canonized by Pope Francis himself in 2013, Mother Laura was a teacher and prolific author who hosted classes in her own home when the 1895 civil war in Colombia forced schools to close.

And in the presence of the relics of this inspiring figure, the Pope put his long text of prepared remarks aside, and engaged with his audience who rose to the occasion reacting enthusiastically to his exhortations and comments.

In a town – Medellin – which used to be the reign of the powerful drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar, Pope Francis pointed his finger against the drug traffickers of today who, he said, continue to destroy the lives of so many young people.

He asked those present to pray for a conversion of the hearts of the traffickers, to ask forgiveness to the Lord for having ruined the lives of so many boys and girls, and to accompany the new generations on a path of rebirth and hope.

He touched on a theme that is dear to him warning the clergy that the devil too often finds its way into their hearts “through their wallets.”

“That’s how corruption spreads, he said, never be attached to material things.”

He told them it is not possible to serve both God and wealth and urged them never to take advantage of their condition as religious and of the generosity of the faithful in order to be served or to obtain material riches.

And in a powerful condemnation of clerical sex abuse, Pope Francis decried “the poison of lies and hidden things”,  the manipulation and abuse of God’s people, of the most fragile of God’s people, especially the elderly and children.

This poison, he said, “must find no space in our communities,” every dead branch must be severed.

Pope Francis concluded his animated address reminding all those who have received a spiritual vocation never to forget the joy with which they must live their mission.

In Colombia with Pope Francis, I’m Linda Bordoni.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope very happy in Colombia says his spokesman

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis loves being in Colombia. The warm welcome of the people gives him a real “kick” says Greg Burke, papal spokesman and Holy See Press Office Director.

Burke was speaking to Vatican Radio at the end of day three of Francis’ 5-day visit to the nation and after a particularly emotional Prayer Meeting for Reconciliation in Villavicencio.

Listen to Linda Bordoni’s interview with Holy See Press Office Director, Greg Burke:

“I think he’s thrilled to be here” he said: “what he sees is a lot of young people, a lot of joyful people and he feeds off that joy.”

Burke spoke briefly about how special are the intimate moments that take place every evening in front of the nunciature before the Pope retires for the night.

“They are very short, they are organized along different themes” he explained and he recalled the encounter on Thursday evening with a group of disabled children with whom the Pope engaged telling them that “we are all vulnerable” and commenting later: “that was pure theology”.

Regarding Friday’s events focussed on Reconciliation in the town of Villavicencio Burke said they were very important for him as “from day one since his election he has been talking about mercy” and to be able to listen to the stories of the victims at the Prayer Meeting and how they have moved forward was very significant because that is what the Pope is about: “he’s about asking forgiveness of God;  he says we learn to ask forgiveness from others and we learn to grant forgiveness and when he sees that in action, it’s incredibly moving for him”.

Finally commenting on the sometimes rather “exuberant” enthusiasm of the Colombian people who run after the pope-mobile and try to grab him, Burke says “the Pope is totally calm and even gets a kick out of it.”

“Obviously here there’s a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of youth, so you are going to see a lot of people running after him!” he said.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope to beatify Fr. Ramirez in Colombia

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis ‎will declare Bishop Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca and Father Pedro Maria Ramirez Ramos ‎ of Colombia “Blessed”, which is a step away from final sainthood.  Both were martyred for their faith in the last century.  The Pope will beatify them at a morning Mass on Friday in Villavicencio, some 94 kms southeast of the Colombian capital Bogota.  

On July, Pope Francis approved a decree recognizing the martyrdom of Fr. Ramirez, killed during  the outbreak of Colombia’s civil war known as “La Violencia”. 

Refused to abandon his people

Born in La Plata on Oct. 23m 1899, Fr. Ramirez was ordained to priesthood in 1931.  He served as the pastor of Chaparral then of Cunday and later of El Fresno before opting for Armero, where he was killed on April 10, 1948.   When violence between the liberals and conservatives erupted, families in Armero offered to smuggle him out of the area to safety but he refused to abandon his people. 

The rebels burst into his church and dragged him to the town square where they lynched and mutilated him. 

Trinitarian Father Antonio Doménico Sáez Albéniz, the postulator or promoter of the cause of beatification and canonization of Fr. Ramirez, told Vatican Radio that he was a very faithful priest given much to prayer, especially to the Eucharist, and quite demanding in questions of morality of the people.  As he was about to be taken to the town square by the rebels, he wrote down his last declaration, thanking the bishop for having posted him in Armero and expressing his gratitude to the Church.  He said he was ready to shed his blood for his people

Fr. Saez said Fr. Ramirez is a martyr because he died for his faith and for justice.  With several Protestant sects and Communists active there, Armero was not a particularly religious town.  Several priests assigned to Armero before him had given up and gone away but Fr. Ramirez volunteered to go there. 

Faithful to the last

The postulator said that with the eruption of violence in 1948 in Bogota, Armero also was involved, with Fr. Saez was accused of everything.  Some women persuaded him to go into hiding, but the priest said he had “consulted his Lord” who asked him to say on.  While being dragged to the square amidst insults, Fr. Ramirez forgave those about to kill him, Fr. Saez said.   The messge of Fr. Ramirez is one of fidelity, which he expressed in the profound awareness of his priesthood, Fr. Saez added.  

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis takes his first steps in Colombia

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has arrived in Colombia. The papal plane touched down in the military area of Bogotà’s airport just after 4pm local time, where a large delegation of Church and State authorities – including President Santos – welcomed him as he stepped onto the tarmac.

Our correspondent Linda Bordoni is in Bogotà and sent this report:

A crowd of eager Colombian faithful was also there waving flags, cheering and clapping to the rhythm of traditional music and dance while a little boy who was born in captivity – the son of former FARC hostage Clara Rojas – hugged him and handed him a handcrafted ceramic dove, symbol of peace.

It is Pope Francis’s 20th apostolic journey abroad and during his five-day visit he will take his message of reconciliation and hope to all Colombians as he visits the cities of Bogotà, Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena from where he will depart on Sunday 10th September.

It’s been 31 years since the Bishop of Rome set foot in this ravaged nation. There were no official discourses scheduled for the occasion and none were needed as Pope Francis immediately set the tone for the visit with a powerful gesture of attention and care for those closest to his heart.

Making his way down the red carpet to the pope-mobile, he stopped at length to touch and caress disabled and sick children, and – especially poignant and significant in the Colombian context –  he took time to engage with and bless, one at a time, a group of mutilated and disabled military veterans representing one of the too many groups of victims of a conflict the nation is struggling to put behind.

Then, the streets were packed with people – ordinary Colombians – for the whole fifteen kilometre drive to the nunciature where a tired Pope Francis can rest and gather strength for a gruelling pastoral visit charged with expectations as he “Takes the First Step” with all the people of the divided and suffering nation as they seek the best route to navigate the treacherous path to peace.

But before tucking up for the night Francis again gave voice to the voiceless and spelt out his priorities by sharing his joy and his faith with a group of poor orphaned children and vulnerable adolescents. “Never lose joy, never lose hope” he told them – and – “don’t forget to pray for me!”

In Bogotà with Pope Francis, I’m Linda Bordoni for Vatican Radio








(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis sends video message ahead of Colombia visit

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday sent a video message to the people of Colombia ahead of his Apostolic Journey to the country on 6-11 September, inviting them to “take the first step” towards peace.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

With just a handful of days to go before his Apostolic Journey, Pope Francis invited all Colombians to “take the first step” in reaching out to their neighbor in a sign of peace.

He thanked those “who welcome me to your land and into your heart” for their many efforts to prepare his visit.

“Let us take the first step” is the theme of his Apostolic Journey to Colombia, and the Holy Father said it “urges us to be the first to love, in order to build bridges and create solidarity.”

He said Colombia has long yearned and worked for peace, which, he said, should be “a stable and lasting peace, so that we see and treat each other as brothers and not as enemies.”

“Peace,” he said, “reminds us that we are all children of the same Father, who loves and consoles us.”

Pope Francis went on to say he is “honored to visit this land so rich in history, culture, and faith.”

He called Colombia a land “of men and women who have labored with tenacity and perseverance to make it a place where harmony and solidarity reign, where the Gospel is known and loved, and where saying ‘brother and sister’ seems not out of place but a true treasure to protect and defend.”

Finally, the Holy Father said the Church is called “to the task of promoting reconciliation, both with the Lord and between brothers, as well as reconciliation with the environment, which is God’s Creation and which we are savagely exploiting.”

Please find below a Vatican Radio English-language translation of the video:

Dear people of Colombia, in just a few days I will visit your country. I come as a pilgrim of hope and peace to celebrate with you the faith in our Lord and also to learn from your charity and perseverance in search of peace and harmony.

I cordially greet and thank the President of the Republic and the bishops of the Episcopal Conference for the invitation to visit Colombia. I also thank each of you, who welcome me to your land and into your heart. I know that you have worked so very hard to prepare this encounter. My appreciation goes to all who have collaborated – and continue to – so that it may become a reality.

“Let us take the first step” is the theme of this Journey. It reminds us that a first step is always required for any activity or project. It also urges us to be the first to love, in order to build bridges and create solidarity. Taking the first step encourages us to reach out to our neighbor, to extend a helping-hand, and to offer a sign of peace. Peace is what Colombia has sought after for a long time, and she is working to achieve it: A stable and lasting peace, so that we see and treat each other as brothers and not as enemies. Peace reminds us that we are all children of the same Father, who loves and consoles us. I am honored to visit this land so rich in history, culture, and faith. [It is a land] of men and women who have labored with tenacity and perseverance to make it a place where harmony and solidarity reign, where the Gospel is known and loved, and where saying ‘brother and sister’ seems not out of place but a true treasure to protect and defend. Today’s world needs specialists in peace and dialogue. The Church also is called to the task of promoting reconciliation, both with the Lord and between brothers, as well as reconciliation with the environment, which is God’s Creation and which we are savagely exploiting.

My dear Colombian brothers and sisters, I yearn to live these days with you with a joyous spirit and with gratitude to the Lord. I warmly embrace you and ask the Lord to bless you, to protect your country, and to give you peace. And I ask our Mother, the Holy Virgin, to watch over you. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you and see you soon.


(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope visits Colombia ‘to support peace and promote reconciliation’

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is set to travel to Colombia from 6 to 11 September. He will be the third Pope to visit the Latin American nation in the footsteps of Pope Paul VI in 1964 and Pope Saint John Paul II in 1986.

Francis begins his trip in the capital Bogota and also will visit the cities of Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena. 

It is a crucial moment for Colombia, which is in the throes of implementing a peace agreement with FARC rebels after a 52-year internal conflict that has left over 260,000 people dead, 60,000 unaccounted for and over 7 million displaced.

The former British Ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker, who currently heads  the South America Department at the Foreign Office in London,  told Linda Bordoni that Pope Francis’ visit there is an extremely important sign of encouragement for the nation’s peace process and will help promote reconciliation:

Listen to the full interview:


Baker described the papal visit to Colombia as “extremely important” because it comes in the wake of the extraordinary progress and journey that the nation has made towards peace by signing a deal with the main guerrilla group, the FARC, which many thought would have been impossible.  

“The extraordinary progress that has been made needs to be acknowledged,” Baker said.

Another key theme of Pope Francis’ visit to Colombia is to encourage the process of reconciliation after such a long and bitter civil war. 

In this context, Baker said it was “incredibly important” that the Pope is meeting victims of the conflict and leading prayers for national reconciliation during his visit.

Staying on the theme of encouragement, Baker said the people of Colombia need “to turn the page from the difficult past” and recognize the huge possibilities and “bright future” that peace can bring to their nation.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope to beatify a bishop and a priest in Colombia

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will beatify two martyred Colombian clerics when he travels to visit their South American nation in September.

The director of the Holy See Press office, Greg Burke, said that Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca and Father Pedro Ramirez Ramos will be beatified on September 8th during an open-air Mass in the city of Villavicencio presided over by the Pope.  

Linda Bordoni reports:

It was thanks to Bishop Jaramillo’s work of evangelization and promotion of the local Church in a vast territory where contraband and drug trafficking were rampant that development was made possible. Jaramillo was taken hostage in 1989 by armed bandits some 800 kilometers east of Bogota, and found dead the following day, shot with four bullets to the head.

Francis also recognized the martyrdom of Father Pedro Ramirez who was killed at the start of the Colombian civil war in 1948 when guerrilla factions set upon him as he sought refuge in his parish church. He refused to flee and abandon the people so the insurgents destroyed the door of the building, seized him and accused him of hiding weapons in the adjacent convent. They killed him on April 10 and impeded the faithful from giving a Christian burial to his mortal remains for some ten days. To this day, Father Pedro is known in Colombia as “the martyr of Armero.”

Pope Francis is scheduled to make his first apostolic visit to Colombia from 6 to 11 September, visiting the cities of Bogotá, Villavicencio, Medellín and Cartagena.

The journey is a pastoral one but is widely expected to further cement the peace accords signed by the government and the FARC rebel group aimed at putting an end to five decaded of civil conflict. The country’s second largest guerrilla group – the ELN – is also currently holding peace negotiations in neighboring Ecuador.


(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope appeals for Colombia, DRC, Venezuela and Paraguay

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed deep pain for the tragedy that has struck the city of Mocoa in Colombia where a gigantic landslide has killed over 250 people and left scores missing.

Listen to  the report by Linda Bordoni:

Colombia’s security forces are searching for over 200 missing people after heavy mudslides reportedly left at least 254 dead, and injured more than 400.

Torrential rain flooded the city of Mocoa in the country’s south-west with mud and rocks, burying whole neighbourhoods and forcing residents to flee their homes.

Speaking after the Angelus prayer which he recited during his visit to the northern Italian town of Carpi, the Pope said he is praying for the victims and he assured his closeness to those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones.

He also thanked all those who are working to assist the victims and provide rescue efforts.   

Pope Francis then turned his thoughts to the situation of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kasai region where, he said, bloody armed clashes are killing and displacing people.

He appealed for prayers for peace in the nation, exhorting believers to pray so that “the hearts of those who are behind such crimes be freed from the slavery of hatred and violence, because hatred and violence are always destructive”.    

The Pope noted that the violence in DRC is also affecting Church members, Churches and Church-run institutes like hospitals and schools.   

Francis finally focused attention on the crises that are creating socio-political turmoil in Venezuela and in Paraguay.

“I pray for those populations who are very dear to me, he said, and invite all to tirelessly persevere in their search for political solutions, avoiding every kind of violence”.





(from Vatican Radio)

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