Returning to a consistent theme of his visit to Colombia, Pope Francis urged Colombians to “take the first step” in his homily at the Port of Cartagena on September 10, 2017.
It was his final Mass in Colombia, and he again made a plea for peace, noting that the first step is “to go out and meet others with Christ the Lord.”
The Holy Father cited the model of Saint Peter Claver, whose shrine he visited earlier the same day:
“Here, in the Sanctuary of Saint Peter Claver, where the progress and application of human rights in Colombia continue to be studied and monitored in a systematic way, the Word of God speaks to us of forgiveness, correction, community and prayer.”
The Pope went on to describe what he had experienced on the trip, especially “many testimonies from those who have reached out to people who had harmed them; terrible wounds that I could see in their own bodies; irreparable losses that still bring tears.”
“Yet they have reached out, have taken a first step on a different path to the one already travelled.”
Francis stressed the personal human role required for a change in Colombian suffering, noting that, “We can contribute greatly to this new step that Colombia wants to take.” And he reminded the congregation: “Jesus tells us that this path of reintegration into the community begins with a dialogue of two persons.
“Nothing can replace that healing encounter; no collective process excuses us from the challenge of meeting, clarifying, forgiving.”
The Holy Father concluded with a direct appeal for peace: “If Colombia wants a stable and lasting peace, it must urgently take a step in this direction, which is that of the common good, of equity, of justice, of respect for human nature and its demands.”