Pope Francis capped a five-day trip to Colombia with a call for culture change in a country attempting to pursue a path of peace and reconciliation after decades of armed conflict and centuries of social exclusion, CNS reports.
The Pope issued his call in Cartagena, on Colombia's Caribbean Coast, where he remembered St Peter Claver and urged the country to follow the example set centuries earlier by the priest, who tended to slaves arriving on ships by showing kind gestures and dignity.
"We are required to generate 'from below' a change in culture, so we respond to the culture of death and violence with the culture of life and encounter," Francis said Sunday, prior to returning to Rome.
"How many times have we 'normalised' the logic of violence and social exclusion, without prophetically raising our hands or voices?" he asked. "Alongside St Peter Claver were thousands of Christians, many of them consecrated, but only a handful started a countercultural movement of encounter."
The final Mass reiterated many of the themes the Pope raised throughout his trip to Colombia, including peace, reconciliation and social inclusion.
He also invoked the motto for his trip, "Let's take the first step". The motto speaks to the collective action needed pull together a country polarised by class divisions, social inequality and how to implement a recently approved peace accord.
"We pray to fulfil the theme of this visit: 'Let us take the first step!' And may this first step be in a common direction. To 'take the first step' is, above all, to go out and meet others, with Christ the Lord," Pope Francis said.
"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 continued.
"Only if we help to untie the knots of violence will we unravel the complex threads of disagreements. The Lord is able to untie that which seems impossible to us, and he has promised to accompany us to the end of time and will bring to fruition all our efforts."