(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ met on Thursday with Colombia’s bishops, encouraging them to provide practical guidance and spiritual leadership at this crucial moment of their nation’s history.
Below are the key points from that speech, which you can read here:
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia’s Nobel prize winning novelist, and, of course, the Bible, provided inspiration for the pope, as he explored the “complex reality of the Colombian Church” and urged the bishops to accompany people on the path of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.
Pope quotes ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’
Like the pope, Garcia Marquez, who died three years ago, was strongly influenced by his grandmother. She told him stories that inspired him to write his iconic novel ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’, described in a New York Times review as “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race."
Pope urges bishops to combat fear
Quoting from that book, Pope Francis talked about the distinct kind of moral courage that peace requires, unlike war, which follows “the basest instincts of our hearts”. He spoke of fear as “a poisoned root, a bitter fruit and a painful legacy of every conflict”.
Pope: “Sacrament of the first step”
To combat fear, he urged the Church leaders to be “guardians and sacrament of the first step”, reflecting the theme of this intense four day visit. He spoke of key Old Testament texts where we see God taking “the first step” towards us – in creation, in the Garden of Eden, in making Abraham the father of many nations, before finally sending his Son Jesus, as the definitive, irreversible step.
Pope: Listen to diverse voices of Colombian Church
As he’d challenged Colombia’s president to be more inclusive, so he challenged the country’s bishops to include the many different experiences and expressions of Church, especially its African roots and its Amazonian, indigenous wisdom and spirituality.
Pope: Unique role of Church in reconciliation
Recalling the visits of two of his predecessors, Pope Paul in 1968 and John Paul II in 1986, Pope Francis said he hadn’t come with a list of do’s and don’ts, but rather he reminded the bishops that they do have a unique role to play in preaching peace and reconciliation.
Pope: Preach the word of God in people’s hearts
Just as Garcia Marquez spoke of “the tenacious advantage of life over death” which helped his characters survive all kinds of odds, so the pope urged Colombia’s bishops to place their trust in God’s love, finding the freedom and credibility to help people write a new chapter in their nation’s history.