On Pentecost Sunday and for the second time in a month, Pope Francis expressed his concern for the situation in Colombia, asking believers to join him in prayer for the suffering people.
“I pray that the beloved Colombian people may receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and that through serious dialogue just solutions may be found to the many problems they are inflicted with, especially for those who suffer poverty due to the pandemic,” the Pope said during the Regina Coeli in St Peter’s Square.
The Holy Father also urged everyone, “for humanitarian reasons,” to avoid potentially dangerous behavior for the good health of all, as they exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully. (Read: Pope Tells Israeli, Palestinian Leaders: ‘Stop the Clamor of Arms!’)
Protesters Injured, Killed
The Latin American nation, visited by Pope Francis in 2017 at the start of a peace process agreed between the government and FARC rebels, has been engulfed in protests after the government of Ivan Duque proposed increasing taxes amid the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although the president withdrew the contentious tax reform proposal in the face of public anger, demonstrations have persisted, aggravated by a brutal crackdown. (Read: Bishops in Myanmar Urge Military to End Violence, Start Dialogue)
At least 40 protesters have been killed and hundreds injured by security forces and armed men dressed in civilian clothes. Many have been arrested and dozens of women have allegedly been sexually assaulted by police officers.
Appeal From Bishops in Colombia
The Pope’s prayers for Colombia come in the wake of an appeal issued by the Colombian Catholic Bishops’ Conference who upholds dialogue as the path to a solution. (Read: Pope Sends Respirators to COVID-Struck Colombia)
“It is fundamental to listen, understand and efficiently find solutions to the demands of those who protest peacefully. This is the only way to build the peace we all want together,” the bishops said.