The president of the Colombian Bishops Conference confirmed that Pope Francis has proposed to send an Observer of the Holy See in the peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) currently taking place in Havana, Cuba.
In an interview with a local radio station, Archbishop Luis A. Castro Quiroga stated that the move “is the form in which Pope Francis can support the Colombian peace process.”
“The acceptance of this figure must have the consent of both parties, the Colombian government and the FARC,” he said.
The announcement comes several days after representatives of the FARC requested to meet with the Holy Father during his visit to Cuba in September. Antonio Lozada, one of the negotiators representing the FARC also requested that a delegate from the Holy See be present during the negotiations. “We want to study the possibility of a meeting (with the Pope), but we know it’s something the Vatican and the Cuban Government must study,” Lozada said in a statement.
The conflict in Colombia, which has spanned almost 50 years between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government, has left an estimated 220,000 dead, over 25,000 missing and 30,000 people kidnapped.
For his part, Pope Francis has expressed his hope that the negotiations can finally lead to peace in the country.
In a message sent earlier this month to participants of the 18th Meeting of the Ordinary Jurisdiction on “Transitional Justice, Peace and Post-Conflict” in Cartagena, the Holy Father said that the peace process requires “courage and creativity.”