Pope Francis has urged Colombians to shun vengeance after a bloody 50-year civil war but said leaders had to enact laws to end the “darkness” of injustice and social inequality that breeds violence.
At the last event of a packed day, the Argentine pontiff said Mass for a crowd estimated by Colombian authorities at just over a million people in Bogota’s sprawling Simon Bolivar Park.
Under a light drizzle, he ended the day as he had begun it, urging Colombians in his homily to put their differences behind them and beware of “darkness” and a desire for “vengeance”.
In his speeches, Francis denounced the social inequality that still plagues Colombia, which has extreme poverty in some rural areas.
Colombians are deeply polarized as they prepare to receive 7,000 former fighters of the FARC guerrilla group into society and aim to repair divisions after a war that killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions over five decades.
The short meeting took place after the pope’s Mass on Thursday night.
Venezuela has been convulsed by months of near-daily demonstrations against leftist President Nicolas Maduro, who critics say has plunged the oil-rich country into the worst economic crisis in its history and is turning it into a dictatorship.