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Rome Reports

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September: Pope Francis visits Colombia to sew seeds of reconciliation

Pope Francis began this month by meeting with the Shalom Community, a charismatic movement founded 35 years ago in Brazil. The movement includes missionary priests, consecrated persons and families. 

During the meeting, the Holy Father answered several questions, and gave this advice to young people:

"Narcissism causes you sadness because you live worried about putting makeup on your soul every day, to appear better than you are, to contemplate if you are more beautiful than others. It's the disease of the mirror. Young people, break the mirror! Do not look in the mirror, because the mirror deceives. Look outward, look at others."

The month of September will be remembered for Pope Francis' trip to Colombia. In under five days, he visited four cities to push for reconciliation, after more than 50 years of conflict. 

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS President of Colombia
“We trust that his visit can open the heart and minds of Colombians to the peace that comes from God and lives within the souls of men.”

“I wanted to come here to say that you are not alone, that there are many of us that want to share this path with you. That this effort can make us flee from all temptation for revenge and the search for only personal and short-term interests.” 

Perhaps the most intense moment of his trip was the Encounter for National Reconciliation with victims and ex-guerrillas. It was held in an area that saw much guerrilla violence, Villavicencio.

“We have to break the chain that is presented as inescapable, and doing that is only possible with forgiveness and concrete reconciliation. Colombia, open your heart as God's people and let yourself be reconciled.”

In the same city, Pope Francis beatified two martyrs who were killed, but forgave their murderers. 

“When victims overcome the understandable temptation to vengeance, they become the most credible protagonists for the process of building peace. What is needed is for some to courageously take the first step in that direction, without waiting for others to do so. We need only one good person to have hope!”

Pope Francis also traveled to Medellin. In the city of skyscrapers, he celebrated a Mass for thousands of people and visited a home for orphans.

The last stage of his trip was in Cartagena, where he had a small mishap while visiting a disadvantaged part of the city.

The blow, although it was not serious, left him with a visible bruise for several weeks.

Returning to Rome a few weeks later, Pope Francis visited the Santa Lucia Foundation, a rehabilitation center for children and adults with neurological disorders. 

The Holy Father greeted each patient, one-by-one, and spoke with their relatives and caregivers. It was a visit with the attempt to also heal the wounds of the soul.