Pope Francis will touch down in Bogota today—the first papal visit to Colombia in 31 years.
Today’s visit fulfils a pledge Francis made in February 2016, when he was asked whether he planned on visiting Colombia. The pope responded he would if peace talks with FARC rebels advanced. Almost 18 months later, the leftist rebel group has completely demobilised and now sits in Colombia’s parliament.
Pope Francis also arrives 48 hours after Colombia’s remaining Marxist rebel group—the ELN—signed a four-month ceasefire with the government.
The Holy See’s role in mediating protracted conflicts across the Roman Catholic world cannot be understated; the ELN has called Pope Francis’ visit “an extra motivator”.
Catholic officials have also used their outsized influence to push for political solutions to the Venezuela crisis—sponsoring talks between socialist President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition—and the DR Congo, where the Church brokered a deal for a political transition. There, Pope Francis has much work to do. But in Colombia, he’ll use a public address to hundreds of thousands of the country’s 34 million Catholics to pray that peace holds.
Simon is the founder of Foreign Brief who served as managing director from 2015 to 2021. A lawyer by training, Simon has worked as an analyst and adviser in the private sector and government. Simon’s desire to help clients understand global developments in a contextualised way underpinned the establishment of Foreign Brief. This aspiration remains the organisation’s driving principle.