Pope Francis Encourages Reconciliation in Colombia at Truth Commission Presentation

Since 1964, as many as 260,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in Colombia’s civil war.

Locals greet Pope Francis in Bogota, Colombia on September 7, 2017 during his September 6-11 papal visit to the country.
Locals greet Pope Francis in Bogota, Colombia on September 7, 2017 during his September 6-11 papal visit to the country. (photo: Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called on Colombia to follow the path of reconciliation in a message read June 28 during the presentation of the final report of the Truth Commission, created in 2016 following the Peace Accord signed between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group.

Since 1964, as many as 260,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in Colombia’s civil war. Pope Francis has voiced his support for an end to the violence in the country on several occasions.

The presentation of the report took place at the Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Theater in Bogotá and was attended by the president-elect of Colombia, Gustavo Petro; his vice president-elect, Francia Márquez; and Minister of the Interior Daniel Palacios, who represented Colombian President Iván Duque, who excused himself because of an international trip.

Pope Francis’ message was read at the start of the event followed by a video address by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

The Pope encouraged the members of the commission and the national and international authorities who received the report “to continue along paths of reconciliation that help strengthen fraternity, to be artisans of peace, to create processes of re-encounter, and to work together, with boldness, in the search for the good of all.”

“May Jesus bless you and Our Lady of Chiquinquirá accompany you,” the Pope said. “And please, I ask you to pray for me.”

The Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence, and Non-Repetition came out of the Havana Peace Accord, signed between the Colombian government and FARC in 2016, in order to determine what took place during 50 years of armed conflict.

The commission has 11 members and is chaired by Jesuit Father Francisco de Roux. It began its work in 2018 and over a four-year period interviewed 27,000 people, including victims, former members of FARC, military personnel, and former Colombian presidents. Twenty-nine centers were also set up throughout the country to collect and disseminate information.

The 2016 Peace Agreement stated that the Truth Commission is “a temporary and extrajudicial body, which seeks to know the truth of what happened and contribute to the clarification of violations and infractions and offer a wide-ranging explanation to the entire society of the complexity of the conflict; promote recognition of the victims and of the responsibilities of those who participated directly and indirectly in the armed conflict; and promote coexistence in the territories to guarantee non-repetition.”

The results of the commission’s work were presented June 28, but only the first of the 10 chapters, which deals with the findings and recommendations, has been published. Over the next two months the rest of the 24 volumes, which contain approximately 8,000 pages, will be made available.

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