“The Pope’s visit to Colombia will be pastoral, although he will refer to the topic of peace more than once, but he is going to proclaim the Gospel,” said Greg Burke, the Vatican spokesman, on September 1, 2017. Burke added that the Holy Father, when he was Bishop, went twice to Colombia, and before that, twice in the 1970s, when he was priest, visiting the cities of Bogota, Medellin and La Ceja.
Burke said that Colombia is one of the largest countries of Latin America, with great cultural diversity, with European cultural descendants, mestizos, Indians and Africans. It’s a country where the Church is large and has the presence of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM).
He said the Holy Father’s program hasn’t changed. He will visit four cities and every day of the Apostolic Journey will have a theme, a leitmotif.
On September 7 in Bogota it will be “Artisans of Peace, Promoters of Life.” On the 9th, in Villavicencio, “Reconciliation with God, with Colombians and with Nature.” In Medellin the theme will be “Christian Life as Discipleship.” And, finally, in Cartagena “The Dignity of the Person and Human Rights.”
Every time a Mass begins mention will be made of the theme of the day and also at the end of the day in the Nunciature, when he gives the Blessing, a moment when the Holy Father might also speak.
In regard to the prepared addresses, whose text journalists will have ahead of time, “It’s not said that they will be the ones the Pope pronounces because he is a very free man,” said Burke, adding that as they are in Spanish “he might change them.” Included in the papal entourage is Professor Guzman Carriquiry, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and Monsignor Octavio Ruiz Arena.
The Vatican spokesman also said that “no meeting is organized for the Pope with the Venezuelan Bishops” and “there are no other meetings with FARC, with the ELN or other Opposition groups, although Professor Carriquiry added that at his arrival in Colombia the Pope will be received by two Venezuelan Cardinals and will no doubt speak with other Bishops who are there during his visit.
The Pope will go to Colombia on Alitalia and will return on Colombia’s Avianca airline.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester