(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has concluded his intense 5-day apostolic journey to Colombia with yet another call to uphold human dignity and to work for a just society in which inequality and oppression give way to hope and fraternity.
Celebrating Mass on the final day of his visit in the port area of Cartagena, the Pope’s homily addressed many of the issues he has highlighted during his visit to the country which is struggling to put behind over five decades of bloody internal conflict and embark on a path to peace.
And in the nation that is sadly renown for the production of cocaine and the power of drug cartels, the Pope also made an off-the-cuff denunciation of drug dealers and traffickers, condemning them as unscrupulous merchants of death who “cut short so many hopes and destroy so many families.”
“You can't play with the lives of our brothers or manipulate their dignity” he said.
His often poetic homily during which he called on Colombians to continue to dream and to work for a project that includes everyone echoed many of the themes touched upon in the past days such as the need to forgive those who have harmed us – a fundamental concept in a process for healing and reconciliation.
Yet again he reminded the leaders of the nation who are drawing up a peace plan after having signed a deal with rebels, that real peace is only possible if the causes of social injustice, inequality and oppression are tackled.
“If Colombia wants a stable and lasting peace, it must urgently take a step in this direction, which is that of the common good, of equity, of justice, of respect for human nature and its demands” he said in a forceful voice.
And he didn’t shy away from naming and decrying, one by one, the evils that undermine a culture of encounter including drug abuse, the devastation of natural resources, pollution, the exploitation of labour, illicit money trafficking and financial speculation which, he said, expose millions of men and women to poverty, prostitution, human trafficking, the tragedy of migrants who are exploited and manipulated.
Notwithstanding their suffering and the wounds of conflict and of centuries of exploitation, the people of Cartagena, which is built on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, brought joy, colour and beauty to the ceremony with their rich tradition of music and dance.
And Pope Francis concluded with a message of Christian hope, inviting all Colombians to lift their eyes to heaven together because, he said: “the Lord is able to untie that which seems impossible to us, and he has promised to accompany us to the end of time, and will bring to fruition all our efforts”.
In Colombia with Pope Francis, I’m Linda Bordoni