“Colombia be reconciled, fear neither the truth nor justice”

“Colombia be reconciled, fear neither the truth nor justice”

By Domenico Agasso jr from Villavicencio/ lastampa.it

The Pope’s appeal to the “Great Prayer Meeting for National Reconciliation”. On stage, representatives of victims of violence, military and police officers and former guerrillas.

“Open your heart as the people of God” and let yourself “be reconciled”. Pope Francis addresses the Colombian Nation, “Fear neither the truth nor justice. Dear people of Colombia: do not be afraid of asking for forgiveness and offering it. The Pontiff launched this appeal to the “Great Prayer Meeting for National Reconciliation” on the second day of his visit to Colombia.

At the Parque Las Malocas in Villavicencio, representatives of victims of violence, soldiers and police officers and former guerrillas are gathered together.

After the greeting of the Archbishop of Villavicencio, Monsignor Óscar Urbina Ortega, the Pope listened to the testimonies of four people.

The 61-year-old widow Pastora Mira Garcí tells the Pope her tragic story, “When my daughter was only two months - the woman said - my first husband was killed. In 2001, the paramilitaries made my daughter Sandra Paola disappear, I found her body only after weeping her for seven years. All this suffering has made me more sensitive to the pain of others, and since 2004 I have been working with the families of the victims of forced disappearances and displaced people.”

But Pastora’s family tragedy did not end there. “In 2005, the paramilitaries of Bloque Héroes de Granada murdered my younger son Jorge Anibal. Three days after I had buried him, I helped a young injured man and put him shelter in the room that once was my son’s room. When he left, he saw his photos and told me that he was one of his murderers. I thank the Lord, because with the help of Our Lady, he gave me the strength to help him without hurting him, despite my unspeakable pain.” After telling her story, as an “offering of pain”, Pastora puts at the foot of the Bojayà cross, the shirt that her daughter Sandra Paola had given to her brother Jorge Anibal, “We kept her shirt in the family as a hope that this will never happen again,” the woman concludes.

Juan Carlos Murcia Perdomo was recruited when he was 10 years old from the Farc, he said, “They taught me that arms and money are the only true God, but I missed my parents.... Now I have set up a foundation to help young people do sport. I ask for forgiveness!

It is Luz Dary Landazury’s turn, she was seriously wounded by one of the mines scattered by the guerrilla in 2012 in Tumaco, which also covered her seven-month-old daughter with splinters, “At first I felt resentment, but I understood that if I limited myself to conveying this hatred, I’d create even more violence. I started to help other victims.

Then Francis spoke: “Dear brothers and sisters! I have been looking forward to this moment since my arrival in your country”. But the Pontiff is “here not so much to speak”, but “ to be close to you and to see you with my own eyes, to listen to you and to open my heart to your witness of life and faith. And if you will allow me, I wish also to embrace you and weep with you. I would like us to pray together and to forgive one another – I also need to ask forgiveness – so that, together, we can all look and walk forward in faith and hope.”

Pope Bergoglio notes: “ We have gathered at the feet of the Crucifix of Bojayá, which witnessed and endured the massacre of more than a hundred people, who had come to the Church for refuge on 2 May 2002,” and now has neither arms nor legs. “This image has a powerful symbolic and spiritual value. As we look at it, we remember not only what happened on that day, but also the immense suffering, the many deaths and broken lives, and all the blood spilt in Colombia these past decades.” To see Christ “this way, mutilated and wounded, questions us. He no longer has arms, nor is his body there, but his face remains, with which he looks upon us and loves us. Christ broken and without limbs is for us “even more Christ”, because he shows us once more that he came to suffer for his people and with his people. He came to show us that hatred does not have the last word, that love is stronger than death and violence. He teaches us to transform pain into a source of life and resurrection, so that, with him, we may learn the power of forgiveness, the grandeur of love.”

Jorge Mario Bergoglio thanked “our brothers and sisters who have shared their testimonies with us, on behalf of so many others. How good it is for us to hear their stories! I am moved listening to them.”

Francis recognizes that, “It can be difficult to believe that change is possible for those who appealed to a ruthless violence in order to promote their own agenda, protect their illegal affairs so they could gain wealth, or claim –dishonestly – that they were defending the lives of their brothers and sisters.” Undoubtedly it is “a challenge for each of us to trust that those who inflicted suffering on communities and on a whole country can take a step forward. It is true that in this enormous field of Colombia there is nevertheless room for weeds… You must be attentive to the fruit… care for the wheat and do not lose peace because of the weeds. When the sower finds weeds mingled with the wheat, he or she is not alarmed. Search for the way in which the Word becomes incarnate in concrete situations and produces the fruit of new life, even if it appears to be imperfect or incomplete. Even when conflicts, violence and feelings of vengeance remain, may we not prevent justice and mercy from embracing Colombia’s painful history. Let us heal that pain and welcome every person who has committed offences, who admits their failures, is repentant and truly wants to make reparation, thus contributing to the building of a new order where justice and peace shine forth.”

Throughout “this long, difficult, but hopeful process of reconciliation, it is also indispensable to come to terms with the truth. It is a great challenge, but a necessary one. Truth is an inseparable companion of justice and mercy. Together they are essential to building peace; each, moreover, prevents the other from being altered and transformed into instruments of revenge against the weakest. Indeed, truth should not lead to revenge, but rather to reconciliation and forgiveness. Truth means telling families torn apart by pain what happened to their missing relatives. Truth means confessing what happened to minors recruited by violent people. Truth means recognizing the pain of women who are victims of violence and abuse.”

Finally, the Pope’s appeal, “I wish finally, as a brother and a father, to say this: Colombia, open your heart as the People of God and be reconciled. Fear neither the truth nor justice. Dear people of Colombia: do not be afraid of asking for forgiveness and offering it. Do not resist that reconciliation which allows you to draw near and encounter one another as brothers and sisters, and surmount enmity. Now is the time to heal wounds, to build bridges, to overcome differences. It is time to defuse hatred, to renounce vengeance, and to open yourselves to a coexistence founded on justice, truth, and the creation of a genuine culture of fraternal encounter.” The hope is “that we may live in harmony and solidarity, as the Lord desires.” Therefore, “ Let us pray to be builders of peace; so that where there is hatred and resentment, - the Pope quotes the prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi - we may bring love and mercy. I wish to place all these intentions before the image of the Crucified One, the black Christ of Bojayá.”

At the end, after the greeting words of two children, the Bishop of Rome was transferred by car to the Parque de los Fundadores where the “Cross of Reconciliation” (Crucifijo de Boyacá) is located.

Sat, 09/09/2017 - 11:12
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