UPDATED – ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO COLOMBIA (CNS) — Flying to Colombia, with a flight plan changed to avoid Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean Sea, Pope Francis told reporters that Colombia and its neighbor, Venezuela, were in his prayers.
The Sept. 6-10 visit to Colombia “is a bit special,” the pope said, because he is going “to help Colombia go forward in its journey of peace.”
As the flight went over Venezuela, Pope Francis sent a telegram to President Nicolas Maduro, sending cordial greetings and “praying that all in the national may promote paths of solidarity, justice and concord.”
Earlier, the pope told reporters that as they crossed Venezuela, “we will say a prayer for Venezuela that it can have dialogue — dialogue among all — for the stability of the country.”
Venezuela, Colombia’s eastern neighbor, has been the scene of protests and severe shortages of food and medicine for months as Maduro has tried to consolidate his power and rewrite the nation’s constitution. More than 100 people have died in the protests since April.
Alitalia’s original plan for the more than 12-hour flight to Colombia was to cross the Atlantic, then fly over U.S. territorial waters and Puerto Rico, the Antilles and Venezuela before landing in Bogota, Colombia.
As the flight was about to take off, Vatican officials said there had been a change of plans because of Hurricane Irma.
On the eve of the trip, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said the visit to Colombia coincides with “the beginning of a process of peace after 50 years of conflict and violence.” The pope wants to encourage Colombians “so that after so much mourning, so much destruction, so much suffering, the Colombian people and the Colombian nation can know a new reality of peace and harmony.”
The motto of the pope’s visit, “Let’s take the first step,” purposefully uses the plural because “everyone must feel involved in this process, this itinerary, and concretely translate it” into action, the cardinal told L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.
Pope Francis will highlight some of the ways of doing that, he said, by insisting on “the sacredness of life, respect for life always and everywhere, the theme of the dignity of the person, of human rights.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103