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Greg Burke: "In Colombia, the pope wants to take the first step in a very important process"

The last time Pope Francis visited Colombia was when he was still a cardinal six years ago, to participate in a priestly encounter.

On Wednesday, he will return to the country dressed in white, with a mission at hand: to promote peace.

Vatican spokesman

"The pope wants to take the first step in a very important process. Reconciliation, to be promoters of peace, builders of peace, promoters of life and human dignity."

The five-day trip, from September 6-11 is divided into four stages. The first in the capital Bogotá. There he will speak before the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. He will also have a meeting with the bishops who represent every part of Latin America. 

Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America

"It is not a trip that only has repercussions for Colombia, because nowadays Colombia is the geopolitical epicenter of Latin America."

The second stage will be in the city which is the symbol of the armed conflict in the country: Villavicencio. It is the door to the Amazon and one of the regions most affected by the war on drug trafficking. This place was chosen to host a liturgical prayer service for the reconciliation of the country, with victims of violence and ex-guerillas present.

Archbishop emeritus of Villavicencio (Colombia)

"We all expected him to go to Chocó because of their difficult conditions, but with the climate, they close the airport very easily and then there is no way out. They chose Villavicencio for two reasons: it is the capital of a department that suffered intense violence on the part of the FARC, the paramilitaries and the State. Also, because it is the gateway to the Amazon."

The third stage, however, will be Medellin. There he will visit one of the social work symbols in the region, Hogar San José. It is almost an 100-year-old orphanage, started by a missionary and now sustained largely by citizens themselves.

The last stop will be in Cartagena, where Pope Francis will visit one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. He will pray before the tomb of St. Peter Claver, a missionary defender of the rights of indigenous people. Before departing, the pope will also celebrate Mass.

It is not yet confirmed if the pope will also meet with Ingrid Betancourt, who spent six years kidnapped by FARC. Another uncertainty is if he will meet with Venezuelan bishops, whom he met with last June, to closely follow the critical situation of their country.