Holy Father Urges Colombia Toward Peace

Says Every Effort Must Be Made

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI urged Colombian Catholics and all people of good will to take a decisive role in ending the country's long-standing conflict.



The Pope made these comments today, upon receiving the letters of credence of the new ambassador of Colombia to the Holy See, Juan Gómez Martínez.

The Holy Father emphasized "the important labor of the Catholic Church for national reconciliation" to overcome the decades long, violent, internal conflict in Colombia, costing thousands of lives each year.

"Every necessary effort must be made to bring peace to the country, to return kidnapped people to their families, to give security and a normal life back to millions of people," the Pontiff said.

He added: "These signs would give trust to all, including those who have been involved in armed fighting."

Benedict XVI noted, "The challenges inherent in carrying forward peace talks which are necessary despite all the pitfalls along the path.

"These aspirations only achieve their full realization when God is considered to be the center of human life and history."

The Pontiff exhorted "Catholics and all men and women of good will to walk the path of forgiveness and common responsibility, in order to establish justice."

With reference to the many kidnapped, the Pope said, "I accompany in prayer those who find themselves unjustly deprived of freedom and I express my closeness to their families, trusting in their prompt release."

The Pontiff encouraged the work of the dioceses, in an effort to promote communion and hope, to "offer humanitarian assistance to those most in need, especially the numerous people displaced in Colombia, and the victims of violence."