Pope Francis sent a telegram to embattled Venezuelan head of state Nicolas Maduro Wednesday, as he flew over Venezuela for a state visit to neighboring Colombia, telling Maduro that the Pontiff was praying that all in the nation (Venezuela) may promote paths of solidarity, justice and concord, in the crisis-stricken nation.
"Peace is what Colombia has been looking for and working for for such a long time", he said.
On the first full day of his four-city tour, the Argentine pontiff, 80, is scheduled to meet with young people and with President Juan Manuel Santos to discuss his aim of sealing a "complete peace". He said Colombia's young must face the challenge of "passing onto us the youthful hope which is always ready to give others a second chance".
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Francis also urged the church hierarchy to work for unity and communion in-house - a reference to the divisions even within the Catholic Church over the terms of the peace accord.
The pope is expected to remain focused on Colombia throughout the trip, possibly avoiding commenting on any issues in other Latin American countries, including Venezuela.
"I'm convinced that the only way out of the conflict is dialogue", said Dairo Usuga, appearing publicly for the first time, in a video published on social media.
"I ask you to pray also for Venezuela, so that there may be dialogue and the country may regain a good stability through dialogue with all", Francis told journalists, as quoted by the ANSA news agency. The Vatican a year ago sponsored dialogue between President Nicolas Maduro's government and the opposition and bishops from the country are slated to meet with Francis in Colombia as pressure builds on the embattled socialist to yield power.
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After meeting Colombian authorities and bishops, Francis will celebrate a Mass later today.
In total, the conflict left more than 250,000 people dead, 60,000 missing and millions more displaced.
Speaking to reporters on the Bogota-bound plane, Francis said the trip was "a bit special because it is being made to help Colombia go forward on its path to peace". Previous spiritual leaders also tried to facilitate peace in Colombia and urged the politicians to address the societal problems that turned the country into one of the most unequal countries in the region.
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