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Path to peace: Pope's visit aims to help Colombians take next steps


  • This is the official logo for Pope Francis' upcoming trip to Colombia in September with the theme "Letís Take the First Step." (CNS)
  • Bicyclists pass the Bogota cathedral, which is surrounded by scaffolding Aug. 3 in preparation for Pope Francis' Sept. 6-10 visit to Colombia. (CNS photo/Mauricio Duena Castaneda, EPA)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis had promised to visit Colombia once a peace accord was in place, but his visit Sept. 6-10 is less about congratulations than about consolidation.

"He comes to take the first step with us," said the bishops of Colombia in a document designed to prepare people for the pope's visit.

In the Gospel of St. John, the apostle Peter is the first to enter the empty tomb after Jesus' resurrection, the bishops wrote. In a similar way, St. Peter's successor, the pope, will visit Colombia, which they described as "a terrible tomb" that "has been crushed with armed conflict, drug trafficking, insecurity and inequality."

Looking at Pope Francis' previous visits to places trying to overcome civil strife, violence and division -- the Holy Land, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Central African Republic -- it is clear Pope Francis recognizes that making and keeping peace require courage and sacrifice.

The people of Colombia are right to celebrate the 2016 peace accord that came after the suffering of 52 years of civil war. Pope Francis obviously will praise that accomplishment, but he also will urge them to "take the first step" toward reconciliation, the theme of the visit.

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