- Title: Pope urges Colombia to hold steady on path to peace
- Date: 7th September 2017
- Summary: SANTOS AND POPE LIGHTING TORCH OF PEACE AND SHAKING HANDS
- Embargoed: 21st September 2017 17:09
- Keywords: Pope Francis and President Juan Manuel Santos at Casa Narino
- Location: BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
- City: BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
- Country: Colombia
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0076XLMTL3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Pope Francis on Thursday (September 7) urged Colombians to shun vengeance following a bloody 50-year war with guerrillas but challenged the country's leaders to enact just laws to resolve the causes of inequality that lead to violence.
At the start of his first full day in Colombia, Francis told government leaders that all Colombians should see peace as a long-term commitment and not allow it to be weakened by partisan politics.
Colombians are deeply polarized as they prepare to receive 7,000 former fighters of the FARC guerrilla group into society and aim to repair divisions after a war that killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions over five decades.
Many Colombians, however, are furious that under the 2016 peace deal, FARC leaders accused of kidnapping, displacements and murder will avoid jail sentences and instead may receive seats in congress as members of a civilian political party.
Francis said he hoped the determination to achieve lasting peace should help flee from vengeance but said "just laws" were needed to "resolve the structural causes of poverty that lead to exclusion and violence."
This is Francis' 20th foreign trip and his fifth to his native Latin America.
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