Slightly injured pope ends Colombia tour with unity appeal
Pope Francis, his eye bandaged and blackened after a minor accident in the popemobile, left Colombia on Sunday (September 10) after appealing to the country to “untie the knots of violence” after a 50-year civil war.
His last day in the Andean country got off to a rocky start when he lost his balance and bumped his head while riding in the popemobile. He bruised his cheekbone and cut his left eyebrow, blood staining his white cassock.
The Vatican said he received ice treatment and was fine. A smiling pope continued the trip wearing a bandage over his cut. “I was punched. I’m fine,” the 80-year-old pontiff joked afterward, the bruises on his face clearly visible.
At the end of the day, when he said Mass for about 500,000 people in the city’s port area, the bruise had swollen and he had a black bag under his eye.
“If Colombia wants a stable and lasting peace, it must urgently take a step in this direction, which is that of the common good, of equity, of justice, of respect for human nature and its demands,” he said in a strong voice in the homily of the Mass, accompanied by Caribbean and salsa music.
“Only if we help to untie the knots of violence, will we unravel the complex threads of disagreements,” he said.
The pontiff left Colombia on an Avianca flight to Rome after watching a “cumbia” troupe perform traditional coastal singing and dancing with President Juan Manuel Santos and his wife, Maria Clemencia.
Francis used the trip to urge Colombians deeply polarized by a peace plan to shun vengeance after a bloody civil war. He also said leaders had to enact laws to end injustice and social inequality that breeds violence.
Cartagena, a top tourist destination famous for its colonial walled ramparts, was the home to Saint Peter Claver, a Spanish priest who ministered to slaves in Colombia in the 1600s, defying Spanish colonial masters who treated them as chattel.
The pope used the occasion to again decry modern slavery and human trafficking and defend the rights of immigrants.
Human rights groups estimate that millions of people around the world are victims of human trafficking and forms of modern slavery such as forced labor and prostitution.