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Defend life, equality, unity, pope tells Colombians


  • Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Simon Bolivar Park in Bogota, Colombia, Sept. 7. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass at Simon Bolivar Park in Bogota, Colombia, Sept. 7. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • A woman prays as Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Simon Bolivar Park in Bogota, Colombia, Sept. 7. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Simon Bolivar Park in Bogota, Colombia, Sept. 7. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Pope Francis greets young people prior to Mass at Simon Bolivar Park in Bogota, Colombia, Sept. 7. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Colombian bishops arrive in procession to celebrate Mass at Simon Bolivar Park in Bogota, Colombia, Sept. 7. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) -- Consolidating peace in Colombia will mean overcoming "the darkness" of inequality and a lack of respect for human life, Pope Francis said.

"Here, as in other places, there is a thick darkness which threatens and destroys life," the pope said in his homily at a late-afternoon Mass Sept. 7 in Bogota's Simon Bolivar Park.

Colombian authorities said more than 1.1 million people gathered in the park for the Mass. Many of them were soaked in a rainstorm before the pope arrived, but as Mass began, bits of blue sky began to appear.

Still, preaching about the Gospel story of Jesus' first encountering Simon Peter after the fishermen had fished all night without luck, Pope Francis spoke about the "turmoil and darkness" of the sea as a symbol for "everything that threatens human existence and that has the power to destroy it."

For Colombia, just starting to recover from more than 50 years of civil war, and for many other nations as well, the pope said, the threats come from "the darkness of injustice and social inequality; (and) the corrupting darkness of personal and group interests that consume in a selfish and uncontrolled way what is destined for the good of all."

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