Pope Francis capped a five-day trip to Colombia with a call for culture change in a country attempting to pursue a path of peace and reconciliation after decades of armed conflict and centuries of social exclusion.
The pope issued his call in Cartagena, on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast, where he remembered St Peter Claver and urged the country to follow the example set centuries earlier by the priest, who tended to slaves arriving on ships by showing kind gestures and dignity.
“We are required to generate ‘from below’ a change in culture, so we respond to the culture of death and violence with the culture of life and encounter,” Pope Francis said on 10th September, prior to returning to Rome.
“How many times have we ‘normalised’ the logic of violence and social exclusion, without prophetically raising our hands or voices?” Pope Francis asked. “Alongside St Peter Claver were thousands of Christians, many of them consecrated, but only a handful started a countercultural movement of encounter.”
The final Mass, celebrated at the docks and full of up-tempo music and worship, reiterated many of the themes Pope Francis raised throughout his trip to Colombia: peace, reconciliation and social inclusion, to name but three.
Picture: Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Contecar terminal in Cartagena, Colombia, on 10th September. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).