Help us expand our reach! Please share this article
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Colombia's long and arduous path toward reconciliation and a lasting peace after nearly half a century of war is a sign of hope for all Christians, Pope Francis said.
Speaking to pilgrims Sept. 13 at his weekly general audience, the pope said the motto of his visit Sept. 6-10 -- "Demos el primer paso" ("Let's take the first step") -- referred to the process of reconciliation that, while difficult, is "underway with the help of God."
"With my visit, I wanted to bless the efforts of that people, confirm them in faith and hope and receive their witness, which is a wealth for my ministry and for the whole church," the pope said.
Although still sporting a black eye after a minor accident during his stay in Cartagena, the pope was in good spirits, greeting pilgrims and kissing babies around St. Peter's Square.
Among those present at the audience was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who briefly greeted Pope Francis at the end of the general audience.
Recalling Colombia's tragic 52-year armed conflict, which was responsible for the deaths of more than 220,000 people, the pope said that while the country was torn apart, its strong Christian roots "constituted a guarantee of peace, the solid foundation of its reconstruction and the lifeblood of its invincible hope."