President Gustavo Petro meets with Pope Francis
The Vatican and the Catholic Church could play a more active role in Colombia’s peace process, according to President Petro.
President Gustavo Petro Urrego, after meeting with Pope Francis, stated on Friday that they discussed seeking a much more active role from both the Vatican and the Catholic Church in the Colombian peace process, described the presidency of Colombia in a press release.
Exiting the Vatican Palace, the Head of State mentioned that “the Pope agrees that we take deeper steps in the peace agreements in Colombia” and announced the possibility of holding meetings with the ELN (National Liberation Army) in the Vatican.
“We might have a round – we’ll talk to the ELN – where we can build an even deeper step in abandoning violence with a setting like this. It would be very suggestive for the entire Colombian society,” he expressed. He emphasized that any developments with the peace agreement with the ELN must be in agreement between the two parties.
Acompañamos al presidente @PetroGustavo en la visita oficial al @Pontifex donde invitamos al Vaticano y a su Santidad, a unirse al Tratado de No Proliferación de Combustibles y a convocar una reunión con los países que nos hemos sumado, para reforzar este mecanismo @fossiltreaty. pic.twitter.com/0F7vGzCuzf
— Susana Muhamad (@susanamuhamad) January 19, 2024
Petro highlighted the significant support the Catholic Church has provided to peace processes in Colombia and mentioned the potential role of the Vatican State as a national, territorial, and state-level platform for negotiations. He expressed his interest in having the next round of talks with the ELN take place there, considering the history of the ELN.
The President mentioned that the meeting with Pope Francis included discussions on global peace, the situation in Palestine, the climate crisis, and the potential support of Colombia for approaches in Nicaragua.
In addition to his meeting with the Pope, Petro had met with leaders of the Sant’Egidio Community in Rome on Thursday, a Catholic group supporting dialogue processes globally.
During the audience, topics such as the crisis in Nicaragua and the climate crisis were also addressed. Petro mentioned that Colombia could offer its good offices in addressing a recent dispute in Nicaragua related to relations between the government and the Church.
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) January 19, 2024
The President noted that they talked about the climate crisis and the need for greater support to make the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Fossil Fuels a reality. He stressed the alliance with the Vatican State to address issues like the sinking Pacific islands due to climate change, emphasizing the Pope’s commitment to environmental issues.
The audience with Pope Francis lasted 35 minutes and was followed by a meeting with Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations. The President was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Álvaro Leyva Durán, and the Colombian Ambassador to the Vatican, Alberto Ospina.
Pope Francis gifted President Petro with a bronze sculpture representing two shaking hands, set against the backdrop of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The sculpture includes figures of a woman with a child and a migrant boat, with the inscription ‘Llenemos nuestras manos con otras manos’ (Let’s fill our hands with other hands).
The Pope also presented volumes of pontifical documents and this year’s World Day of Peace Message to the Colombian Head of State. In return, President Petro gave the Pope an artisanal poncho and Colombian coffee.
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