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Vatican suggests Pope Francis won't meet with Colombian rebels

2015-08-20

The Vatican does not expect Pope Francis to meet with leaders from FARC, the Colombian rebel group, while he is in Cuba next month. Members of the group have been in Cuba for nearly three years to negotiate an end to Colombia's decades-long civil war.

Pope Francis will visit Cuba from September 19 to 22. He will have a packed agenda which includes liturgical celebrations and meetings with young people, families, religious, and the country's public authorities.

During his last trip to Latin America in July, the Pope expressed his deep personal interest in Colombia's ongoing conflict. Although it doesn't appear that he will become personally involved with negotiations during his trip to Cuba, the issue is still very close to his heart.

POPE FRANCIS
"I am very concerned right now so that the peace negotiations in Colombia will not be stopped. I have to stay that I hope that the process moves forward."

The Pope suggested that both parties will need to show a strong desire to end their conflict, as was the case between the United States and Cuba. Further, he said that both parties having the will to re-establish relations was the most important part of the process.

POPE FRANCIS
"It was the willingness of both countries, the merit is theirs, they wanted to do this.”

The conflict in Colombia is one of the longest and bloodiest wars in modern history. It has lasted for more than half a century and has claimed millions of victims, though violence has been reduced in recent years.

The Church in Colombia is helping the peace process. They send continuous messages encouraging forgiveness and try to promote reconciliation on both sides. It is a delicate and difficult goal, given how deep the war's wounds are.


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