Flying to Colombia, pope asks prayers for Venezuela

By Cindy Wooden

THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO COLOMBIA (CNS) — Flying to Colombia, with a flight plan
changed to avoid Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean Sea, Pope Francis told
reporters that Colombia and its neighbor, Venezuela, were in his prayers.

Sept. 6-10 visit to Colombia “is a bit special,” the pope said,
because he is going “to help Colombia go forward in its journey of

pope also told reporters the flight would take him over Venezuela, and “we
will say a prayer for Venezuela that it can have dialogue — dialogue among all
— for the stability of the country.”

Colombia’s eastern neighbor, has been the scene of protests and severe
shortages of food and medicine for months as President Nicolas Maduro has tried
to consolidate his power and rewrite the nation’s constitution. More than 100
people have died in the protests since April.

original plan for the more than 12-hour flight to Colombia was to cross the
Atlantic, then fly over U.S. territorial waters and Puerto Rico, the Antilles
and Venezuela before landing in Bogota, Colombia.

the flight was about to take off, Vatican officials said there had been a
change of plans because of Hurricane Irma. They said the new flight path would
go over Barbados, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago as well.

the eve of the trip, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said
the visit to Colombia coincides with “the beginning of a process of peace
after 50 years of conflict and violence.” The pope wants to encourage
Colombians “so that after so much mourning, so much destruction, so much
suffering, the Colombian people and the Colombian nation can know a new reality
of peace and harmony.”

motto of the pope’s visit, “Let’s take the first step,” purposefully
uses the plural because “everyone must feel involved in this process, this
itinerary, and concretely translate it” into action, the cardinal told
L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

Francis will highlight some of the ways of doing that, he said, by insisting on
“the sacredness of life, respect for life always and everywhere, the theme
of the dignity of the person, of human rights.”

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article