By Vatican News staff writer
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.
Speaking during the Regina Coeli in St Peter’s Square, the Pope said: “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 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.
Nationwide protests and brutal crackdown
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.
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.
Colombian bishops’ appeal
The Pope’s appeal for prayers for Colombia comes in the wake of an appeal issued by the Colombian Catholic Bishops’ Conference who uphold dialogue as the path to a solution.
“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.