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Papal reconciliation visit: Pope Francis calls on Colombians to be "slaves to peace"

POPE FRANCIS urged Colombians to be “slaves to peace forever” on Sunday, the last day of his visit to promote reconciliation.

He flew home to Rome on Sunday night after his final stop in the port city of Cartagena.

There he prayed at the tomb of of St Peter Claver, the 17th-century Jesuit missionary who ministered to hundreds of thousands of slaves arriving at the port from Africa.

He urged Colombians to follow Claver’s pledge to be the eternal “slave of the slaves” and repeated his call for grudges to be settled after decades of civil war.

“Colombia, your brother needs you,” the Pope said. “Go and meet him with the embrace of peace, free from all violence, slaves of peace, forever.”

Last week the rebel National Liberation Army (ELN) reached a ceasefire agreement with President Juan Manuel Santos’s government. It followed last year’s peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

Francis sported a black eye and a cut after striking his head on the window of the Popemobile when it braked suddenly to avoid hitting crowds of wellwishers.

He also called for peace in neighbouring Venezuela, where months of opposition riots have left 124 dead.

The Pope called for Venezuelans “to reject all types of political violence and to find a solution to the grave crisis that it is affecting especially the poorest and most disadvantage members of society.”

Mr Santos said he would welcome any refugees from Venezuela — which hosts five million Colombians who fled right-wing paramilitary death squads.



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