Monday, May 13, 2013

Pope Gives Support to Colombia Peace Talks

Pope Francis gave his full support today to peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the country’s FARC rebels.

“Reference to the undergoing process of peace and the victims of conflict was not overlooked, with the wishes that the parties involved carry on negotiations, inspired by a sincere search for the common good and for reconciliation,” read a statement issued by the Vatican after the Argentine-born pontiff met privately on Monday with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

The leaders also discussed the “challenges that the country must face were taken into consideration, especially in regard to social inequalities” according to the Vatican statement.

"These past 24 hours have been very important for Colombia, for my government, for me as a president, for me as a person and for my family," Santos said after meeting with the first Latin American elected to head the Roman Catholic Church.

Representatives for the Colombian government and the FARC admitted earlier this month that progress has slowly been made in the peace talks that began last November.

On Sunday, Pope Francis canonized two female nuns from Latin America known for their unselfish work aiding the poor and the indigenous during the 20th century.  Laura Montoya and Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala became the first saints from Colombia and Mexico, respectively, and the Pope emphasized yesterday how they should serve as examples for Catholics to follow:

Francis, the first pope from the Jesuit order, praised the Colombian saint for "instilling hope" in indigenous people. He said she taught them in a way that "respected their culture". Many Catholic missionaries over the centuries have been criticized for demanding that natives renounce local traditions viewed as primitive.
He hailed the Mexican saint for renouncing a comfortable life to work with the sick and poor. Mother Lupita's example, said Francis, should encourage people not to "get wrapped up in themselves, their own problems, their own ideas, their own interests, but to go out and meet those who need attention, comprehension, and help".
Montoya spent over thirty years in the Colombian jungle not only performing missionary work on the indigenous but also teaching them how to read and write. Garcia, meanwhile, helped protect Mexican Catholic figures during the Cristero War of the 1920s and also took in impoverished patients to the hospital she worked in.

The pontiff also canonized the "Martyrs of Otranto,” over 800 Italians massacred by Ottoman soldiers in 1480 after they refused to renounce their Christianity.

Video Source– YouTube via Rome Reports

Online Sources – The Guardian, GlobalPost,; Reuters

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