VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has concluded his visit to Colombia where he spent five days (6-11 Sept 2017) meeting victims of the country’s civil war and urging all people to work together for peace and national reconciliation.
But as the spotlight fades and organisers dismantle the Mass venues, what effect will the pope’s words have on the politicians, religious leaders and Colombians from all walks of life who flocked to see and hear him speak in Cartagena, Medellin, Villavicencio and the capital, Bogotà?
Beatrice Canal, a professional translator and mother of two grown up children, shared her own reactions to the papal visit with Linda Bordoni, Vatican Radio correspondent in Bogota, on Sept 11.
Canal said she was “pleasantly surprised” and deeply moved to see so many people welcoming the pope “with happiness in their eyes.”
The visit, she said, “has brought us together” and “touched the hearts of every Colombian” who had the chance to see him at the main events or simply line the streets as he drove by.
She said she was happy to see that the trip was “completely unpolitical,” but as an overwhelmingly Catholic nation (over 80 percent of the population) “we were very touched by the visit.”
In particular, Canal said, Colombians are “all very happy that he is the first Latin American pope and “we see him as one of our own.”
Asked what impact the papal visit may have on the future of her country, Canal noted the pope spoke extensively “about peace and reaching out to others.” She added: “I hope he leaves behind the desire in every Colombian to again feel and share that brotherly and fraternal love he’s been speaking so much about.”
While she acknowledged that the implementation of the peace agreements remains fraught with difficulties, the translator insisted that “every Colombian is hopeful to live in a country in peace.”
She noted that her own children, aged 30 and 35, have never lived in a country in peace, and that she was “a little girl when the violence broke out.” She said: “I know that the signing of a paper does not translate immediately into peace, now comes the most difficult part where every Colombian has to chip into the process and to open our hearts and be accepting of the former insurgents.”
The victims, Canal concluded, need to “find a place in their hearts to want to forgive” and to be able to live, free of the fear that has caused so much suffering for those living the countryside. – vatican radio