Round-up of Pope Francis' activities in Colombia

Round-up of Pope Francis' activities in Colombia

By Linda Bordoni/ Vatican Radio

Pope tells Colombia's youngest victims that Jesus loves them

Pope Francis’ apostolic visits always feature at least one event in a place of suffering, of solidarity, of rebirth.

He always makes sure he spends some precious time with the poorest and the weakest of the world, be they prisoners, disabled adolescents, elderly people, slum-dwellers… In Medellin on Friday he visited the community at Hogar San José: a Jesuit-run home for orphaned children victims of Colombia’s conflict.

The over 300 children cared for by the nuns, lay people and volunteers of the Home come from across the ravaged nation. All of them carry the wounds of violence and abuse.

One little girl, Claudia Yesenia, told the story of her own suffering when – aged two - she was wounded and lost all when a rebel attack in the San Carlos Antioquia area wiped out her entire community and most of her family.

But she also told of her rebirth at the San José Home for children where she was cherished and cared for and is being given an education so that she too can, one day, offer care and love to children in need.

Pope Francis listened with attention, smiled and embraced the children as he always does, and put everything else aside to be able to enjoy their songs, their joy, their presence.

He told them that Jesus loves them more than anyone else and that He protects them to make sure that they – who are the future of Colombian society – may grow and be strengthened in wisdom and grace.

In this nation where nature is so lush and generous, where the national flower is the sophisticated orchid, each child was holding a small bouquet of little white daisies: the simplest and most humble of blossoms. Just like those closest to Pope Francis’ own heart.
Pope spells out priorities for the clergy

(Vatican Radio) Some 12,000 priests, men and women religious, consecrated laypeople and seminarians with their families crowded into Medellin’s “La Macarena” event centre on Friday to listen to Pope Francis’ thoughts, proposals and instructions regarding their ministry.

On the podium, the relics of Saint Mother Laura Montoya, a nun who was the first female Colombian Saint. Canonized by Pope Francis himself in 2013, Mother Laura was a teacher and prolific author who hosted classes in her own home when the 1895 civil war in Colombia forced schools to close.

And in the presence of the relics of this inspiring figure, the Pope put his long text of prepared remarks aside, and engaged with his audience who rose to the occasion reacting enthusiastically to his exhortations and comments.

In a town – Medellin – which used to be the reign of the powerful drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar, Pope Francis pointed his finger against the drug traffickers of today who, he said, continue to destroy the lives of so many young people.

He asked those present to pray for a conversion of the hearts of the traffickers, to ask forgiveness to the Lord for having ruined the lives of so many boys and girls, and to accompany the new generations on a path of rebirth and hope.
He touched on a theme that is dear to him warning the clergy that the devil too often finds its way into their hearts “through their wallets.”

“That’s how corruption spreads, he said, never be attached to material things.”

He told them it is not possible to serve both God and wealth and urged them never to take advantage of their condition as religious and of the generosity of the faithful in order to be served or to obtain material riches.

And in a powerful condemnation of clerical sex abuse, Pope Francis decried “the poison of lies and hidden things”, the manipulation and abuse of God’s people, of the most fragile of God’s people, especially the elderly and children.
This poison, he said, “must find no space in our communities,” every dead branch must be severed.

Pope Francis concluded his animated address reminding all those who have received a spiritual vocation never to forget the joy with which they must live their mission.
Pope very happy in Colombia, says his spokesman

Pope Francis loves being in Colombia. The warm welcome of the people gives him a real “kick” says Greg Burke, papal spokesman and Holy See Press Office Director.

Burke was speaking to Vatican Radio at the end of day three of Francis’ 5-day visit to the nation and after a particularly emotional Prayer Meeting for Reconciliation in Villavicencio.

“I think he’s thrilled to be here” he said: “what he sees is a lot of young people, a lot of joyful people and he feeds off that joy.”
Burke spoke briefly about how special are the intimate moments that take place every evening in front of the nunciature before the Pope retires for the night.

“They are very short, they are organized along different themes” he explained and he recalled the encounter on Thursday evening with a group of disabled children with whom the Pope engaged telling them that “we are all vulnerable” and commenting later: “that was pure theology”.

Regarding Friday’s events focussed on Reconciliation in the town of Villavicencio Burke said they were very important for him as “from day one since his election he has been talking about mercy” and to be able to listen to the stories of the victims at the Prayer Meeting and how they have moved forward was very significant because that is what the Pope is about: “he’s about asking forgiveness of God; he says we learn to ask forgiveness from others and we learn to grant forgiveness and when he sees that in action, it’s incredibly moving for him”.

Finally commenting on the sometimes rather “exuberant” enthusiasm of the Colombian people who run after the pope-mobile and try to grab him, Burke says “the Pope is totally calm and even gets a kick out of it.”

“Obviously here there’s a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of youth, so you are going to see a lot of people running after him!” he said.

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 09:08
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