Sunday, November 28, 2021

Pope Francis to visit Colombia in early 2017

Pope Francis will travel to Colombia in 2017, president of the Episcopal Conference in that country, Luis Augusto Castro, announced Saturday after meeting with the pontiff in the Vatican.

“The conclusions (of the meeting) are not so extraordinary but they are certain. The first is that the pope will definitely go to Colombia. He simply reaffirmed his pleasure at visiting us in Colombia,” he said.

He said the second conclusion of the meeting is that Jorge Bergoglio’s visit to the Latin American nation “will only be possible in the first or second quarter” of 2017, because “his agenda this year is full.”

Castro added that “the pope wants to meet with the largest possible number of Colombians who want to hear him and be with him.”

“We’re not going to pick a sanctuary in some little private place. No. He wants to be accessible to the greatest number of Colombians possible,” he told the press.

He added that it is “almost certain” he will visit Quibdo in the western province of Choco.

“He wants to meet with ethnic minorities, with those of African descent. So I believe that is settled. The rest has to be worked out,” the head of the Episcopal Conference, who is also the archbishop of Tunja, said.

“The pope wants to do so much, he told us, he also wants to visit other places. He said ‘Brazil is waiting for me and Argentina is yelling.’ But Colombia is the priority,” he laughed.

As for the peace process between the Colombian government and the guerrillas, Castro Quiroga said “the pope is very interested in the matter” but “the peace process won’t influence his visit.”

Taking part in the papal audience besides Castro were the archbishop of Bogota, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez; Msgr. Oscar Urbina Ortega, the archbishop of Villavicencio and vice president of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia; and the secretary general of the conference, Jose Daniel Falla Robles, bishop of Calama and auxiliary bishop of Cali.