The Atlantic

Can the Pope Bridge Colombia's Divide Over FARC?

Francis’s message of forgiveness has not come with an explicit endorsement of the peace deal.

Source: Fernando Vergara / AP

On the first day of Pope Francis’s visit in Bogota, Colombia, he was met at the airport by President Juan Manuel Santos and a swarm of followers waving white handkerchiefs. On the tarmac, the pope was handed a white dove by a teenager, the son Clara Rojas, a former vice presidential candidate who was held captive by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for six years. It was a deeply symbolic moment, and a theme the pope is expected to take around the country during his five-day trip, the first papal visit to Colombia in 30 years.

“The solitude of always being at loggerheads has been familiar for decades, and its smell has lingered for a hundred years,” Francis later said, referencing Colombia’s most famous author, Gabriel. “We do not want any type of violence whatsoever to restrict or destroy one more life.”

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