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Pope Francis to Visit Colombia Wednesday

  • VOA News

FILE - Nuns hold a banner with an image of Pope Francis and a message that reads in Spanish: "I ask you in the name of God to defend Mother Earth" during a silent march calling for action to tackle climate change, in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 29, 2015.

Pope Francis arrives Wednesday in Colombia for a five-day visit that will fulfill a promise to visit the nation once it reached an agreement to end the country's civil war.

The pope made the promise in early 2016 and, only a few months later, FARC rebels and the Colombian government signed a peace pact to end the more than 50-year-old war.

Voters rejected the agreement in a referendum, but it was approved by Congress in November.

President Juan Manual Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to restore peace, but the agreement remains unpopular among Colombians.

When the pope arrives in Colombia, he likely will attempt to mitigate the lingering hostility over the issue.

The pope and the Vatican have been working for several years to bring peace to the South American country.

Francis personally arranged an unprecedented meeting at the Vatican in December between himself, President Santos and former president and opposition leader Alvaro Uribe.

Although the pope is expected to focus on peace, the Vatican said his visit will be about more.

"It is wrong to only focus on peace," Guzman Carriquiry of the Vatican's Commission for Latin America told reporters Friday. "The Pope sees this trip as part of a long process in fighting violence," Carriquiry added.

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