“Reconciliation cannot merely serve to accommodate unjust situations”

A portrait of slain Catholic priest Pedro Ramirez, who has been beatified by Pope Francis

“Reconciliation cannot merely serve to accommodate unjust situations”

By Andrea Tornielli from Villavicencio/ lastampa.it

In Villavicencio Pope Francis beatifies Bishop Jaramillo, who was killed by the ELN guerrillas, and the martyr priest Ramirez Ramos. Bergoglio’s car nearly trapped by the crowd.

“Reconciliation cannot merely serve to accommodate unjust situations.” But “it becomes substantive and is consolidated by the contribution of all”. “What is needed is for some to courageously take the first step in that direction, without waiting for others to do so.” Pope Francis celebrated the mass in Catama in Villavicencio, an agro-industrial city and important commercial center of the Llanos Orientales of Colombia. In some ways, today and on these ground takes place the most important day of the Pope’s complex Colombian journey. It is the day especially dedicated to reconciliation, which puts at its center the victims of violence as well as the former perpetrators who have admitted their crimes.

The Pope’s plane landed half an hour late at the military base in Villavicencio. The procession and the small car with the Pontiff aboard found itself passing through a bottleneck in the midst of the pressing crowd, with people trying to approach the car, while the police struggled to keep it at a distance. Images that recall what happened in July 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, when the cheering crowd blocked for about ten minutes the papal procession which had accidentally taken a side-street. Luckily, there were no moments of tension, the cars never stopped and the Pope, with the window lowered, continued greeting and blessing.

On his arrival to Catama, the Pope was greeted by a group of local inhabitants of the Llanos Orientales region and was presented with an inlaid wood stick and a traditional hat.

At the beginning of today’s Mass, which marks the day the Church commemorates Mary’s nativity, Francis beatified a bishop and a priest, martyrs of the senseless violence that has stained the country for over seventy years. Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve, bishop of Arauca, a shepherd strongly committed to social issues, who was barbarically tortured and killed in 1989 by the ELN, the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army, who did not forgive him for having collaborated with the government for initiatives in favor of the poor. And Father Pedro Maria Ramirez Ramos who was murdered in 1948 with a machete by rebels who believed he was a conservative supporter.

In his homily, Francis recalled the women mentioned by the Gospel in the genealogy of Jesus, though none of those referred to in the genealogy has the category of the great women of the Old Testament, but “it is they, in the genealogy, who tell us that pagan blood runs through the veins of Jesus, and who recall the stories of scorn and subjugation. In communities where we are still weighed down with patriarchal and chauvinistic customs, it is good to note that the Gospel begins by highlighting women who were influential and made history.

The people of Colombia - he continued - are God’s people; here too we can write genealogies full of stories, many of love and light; others of disagreement, insults, even of death… How many of you can tell of exile and grief! How many women, in silence, have persevered alone, and how many good men have tried to put aside spite and resentment, hoping to bring together justice and kindness!

“How can we best allow the light in? What are the true paths of reconciliation? - The Pope asked himself - Like Mary, by saying yes to the whole of history, not just to a part of it. Like Joseph, by putting aside our passions and pride. Like Jesus Christ, by taking hold of that history, assuming it, embracing it. That is who you are, that is who Colombians are, that is where you find your identity. God can do all this if we say yes to truth, to goodness, to reconciliation, if we fill our history of sin, violence and rejection with the light of the Gospel.”

“Reconciliation - Francis explained - is not an abstract word; if it were, then it would only bring sterility and greater distance. Reconciliation means opening a door to every person who has experienced the tragic reality of conflict. When victims overcome the understandable temptation to vengeance, they become the most credible protagonists for the process of building peace. What is needed is for some to courageously take the first step in that direction, without waiting for others to do so. We need only one good person to have hope! And each of us can be that person!”

“However - the Pontiff goes on - This does not mean ignoring or hiding differences and conflicts. This is not to legitimize personal and structural injustices. Recourse to reconciliation cannot merely serve to accommodate unjust situations. Instead, as Saint John Paul II taught: “[Reconciliation] is rather a meeting between brothers who are disposed to overcome the temptation to egoism and to renounce the attempts of pseudo-justice.”

Finally, the Pope recalled the safeguarding of creation, “In these beautiful surroundings, it is up to us to say yes to reconciliation; may our yes also include the natural environment. It is not by chance that even on nature we have unleashed our desire to possess and to subjugate. One of your countrymen sings this in a beautiful way: “The trees are weeping, they are witnesses to so many years of violence. The sea is brown, a mixture of blood and earth”.

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 22:13
Comment through the site Comment through facebook


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.