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We hail Pope Francis historic first visit to Colombia

Today, we welcome the Holy Father’s first visit to Colombia – a country rocked by years of violent civil war involving guerrilla groups, private armed groups, drug cartels and government forces which have left thousands of people dead, millions forced to flee their land and many missing loved ones who have just “disappeared”.

Our first Latin American Pope’s historic four-day visit to Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena, comes after the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with rebel group FARC-EP (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) last November, in a significant step towards peace after five decades of conflict.

Pope Francis will show solidarity with a nation yearning for peace, and send out a strong message of forgiveness and reconciliation during his visit. The Catholic Church has for many years played an important and distinctive role in standing with the most disadvantaged, in continuing to work alongside them and comfort them, advocate on their behalf and provide practical support.

In a letter confirming the Pope’s visit to Colombia, the Vatican’s Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said the Holy Father “is aware of the crucial importance of the present moment in which, with renewed effort and moved by hope, Colombians are seeking to build a more fair and fraternal society: a society of peace.”

Thanks to generous donations from our supporters here in Scotland and funding from the EU, we have been able to support the Catholic Church in Colombia play a key role in getting the voice of the victims heard during the peace negotiations between the government and FARC-EP.

We’re also helping communities who were forced to flee their homes to stand up for their rights and reclaim legal access to their land, as well as providing seeds, tools, livestock and training to traditional communities so they can grow more food and support themselves.