By Carmen Elena Villa Betancourt
ROME, SEPT. 2, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A month before French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt was released from imprisonment, she made a promise to God.
In a press conference Monday after her meeting with Benedict XVI, the former prisoner the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) revealed to journalists how she consecrated herself the Sacred Heart of Jesus shortly before her release.
Betancourt was a candidate for the Colombian presidency when she was kidnapped in 2002.
During her almost seven years in captivity in the south of the Colombian jungle, Betancourt, who admits that she had a weak faith before her imprisonment, had two main activities: read the Bible and listen to the radio.
On June 1, a month before her release, she was listening to the Worldwide Catholic Radio and heard the promises made to those who would consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart.
Although Betancourt could not recall them all, she mentioned some of the promises to journalists: that the Sacred Heart will touch the hard hearts of those who make one suffer, that he will bless the person’s plans, and that he will help the person carry the cross and await him or her at the time of death.
Strength to endure
When Betancourt heard those words she said to herself, “This is for me. I need God to touch the hard hearts of the guerrillas, to touch the hard hearts of all those who do not allow our freedom to take place.
“I need him to bless and make his own my undertaking to obtain the freedom of all of us, and that he allow this to happen. I need him also to accompany me in carrying this cross because alone I can no longer endure it.”
Betancourt then revealed what she promised to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: “Jesus, over these years I have never asked you for anything, but today I am going to ask you for something.
“As this is the month of the Sacred Heart, your month, I am going to ask you for a miracle for me, not for my release because I don’t think it’s possible, but let me know miraculously when I will be released because, if I know when, even if it is not for many years, so I will have the strength to endure.
“If you do this miracle for me, Lord, I will be yours.”
On June 27, a FARC commander said to Ingrid: “There is an international commission that visits prisoners; it is very probable that some of you will be released.”
Betancourt said Benedict XVI told her in the audience that Christ “brought about the miracle of your release because you were able to ask him. You didn’t ask him for your release, but asked that his will be done and that he help you to understand his will.”
The former prisoner told the Holy Father that she doesn’t know what it means to be Christ’s. The Pope replied: “He will show you the way.”
A call to believe
At the press conference Betancourt made a plea: “There are many people who are angry with God and don’t want to believe, and many people who are ashamed to believe in God.
The only thing I can tell you is that there is someone who hears us and speaks to us with words, and that if we understand how to speak to him, he will help us.”
After the audience, Betancourt said that Benedict XVI always prays for hostages. “The Pope bears the pain of those who suffer in his soul,” he is a “man of light.”
She also sent a message of encouragement to those who were her companions in captivity and who have yet to be released: “I know that this voice is going to reach the Colombian jungle. I know that I will soon embrace you in freedom.”
Betancourt also appealed to the guerrillas, who at present have some 3,000 hostages in their power. “You had me captive for seven years. I know you profoundly. I know your organization, your way of thinking and your objectives.
“Today I want to tell you that the world is waiting for you. The world wants you to make room in your minds so that you will achieve peace in Colombia. […] The answer is in your hearts, not in military and political calculations.”