The Vice President of Colombia, Francia Marquez, visited Pope Francis this Thursday, December 14 at the Vatican. During the meeting, which lasted approximately 40 minutes, the Colombian politician spoke with the leader of the Catholic Church about the efforts her government is making to achieve peace in Colombia, as well as the reconciliation of the country after so many decades of violence.
As a courtesy, Marquez gave the pontiff a marimba, a musical instrument typical of the Colombian Pacific coast, where the Colombian vice-president is from. For his part, the Pope presented the Colombian representative with some handicrafts from the Vatican workshops and a collection of books autographed by Francis himself. Also present at the meeting was the Colombian Ambassador to the Holy See, Alberto Ospina Carreño, who accompanied the official on her visit.
This was a “private audience” which, in Vatican language, means that the meeting is not just a protocol greeting, but that the visitor had the opportunity to chat with the Catholic leader. On two earlier occasions, the Pope has also received the wife of President Gustavo Petro, First Lady Veronica Alcocer.
Pursuing Peace in Colombia
“I have just finished the audience with the Holy Father, who sends Colombia a message of love and joy and hope to share as a family this Christmas. Of course, the Holy Father invites us to continue working tirelessly to achieve peace, social justice and dignity for all Colombians,” said Francia Márquez at the end of the audience in Rome.
The vice-president also added that she shares Francis’ call for “social justice and the culture of encounter”, appealing that they are “united by the commitment to overcome social and environmental crises linked to inequality and poverty”.
Historical reparations with Afro-descendants and indigenous people
Likewise, Francia Marquez explained that she also spoke with Francis about the historical reparation with the Afro-descendant and indigenous peoples who continue to live the consequences of colonialism and slavery. The Colombian vice-president is a social leader of the Colombian black community, representating that part of the country that historically has not had a role in the Colombian leadership.
Marquez was a key player in Gustavo Petro’s electoral victory in last year’s presidential elections. Since taking office, she has worked to recover historical ties which some Colombian citizens have with African countries, as their ancestors originated there. This was demonstrated during her trips to Africa, especially the one she made to Kenya a few months ago.
Fight against climate change
“The Holy Father invites us to continue making every effort to curb climate change, which continues to put life at risk on our planet. To continue working for the care of our big house, our common home, is today a task of all humanity,” said Marquez in reference to another of the main concerns of the Colombian government: the fight against climate change.
In this regard, it is worth recalling Colombia’s commitment to defend its proposal to exchange foreign debt for climate action and its determination to accelerate the end of the use of fossil fuels, in line with what was approved yesterday at the Dubai summit, COP28.
At the end of the meeting, the vice-president took the opportunity to ask the pontiff to bless a number of objects, which she said would be given to their families as a souvenir of the meeting with the highest representative of the Catholic community. Colombia is a country where religiosity, traditionally Catholic, is deeply rooted among different social strata of the population.