Pope Francis ad­dresses vi­o­lence against women on Colom­bia visit

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Pope Francis has con­demned "ver­bal and phys­i­cal vi­o­lence to­wards women" and called for "re­spect" while ad­dress­ing large crowds on a visit to Colom­bia.

The Ar­gen­tine pon­tiff, the first Pope to visit the coun­try in over three decades, said that the Bi­ble cel­e­brates women who are strong and in­flu­en­tial.

"How many women, in si­lence, have per­se­vered alone?" he asked those gath­ered in the city of Villav­i­cen­cio.

The Pope was on a five­day trip to show sup­port for the Colom­bia peace process.

He was re­peat­edly in­ter­rupted by ap­plause as he told lis­ten­ers at a huge open-air mass on Fri­day that many com­mu­ni­ties “are still weighed down with pa­tri­ar­chal and chau­vin­is­tic cus­toms.”

The Pope has re­ceived a warm wel­come in Colom­bia, a ma­jor­ity Ro­man Catholic coun­try.

As the coun­try pre­pares to rein­te­grate for­mer mem- bers of the left­ist Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Armed Forces of Colom­bia (Farc) back into so­ci­ety, the pon­tiff is urg­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and for­give­ness fol­low­ing decades of bloody civil war.

The crowd in Villav­i­cen­cio on Fri­day in­cluded thou­sands of vic­tims of the fight­ing.

Dur­ing the homily, the pon­tiff be­at­i­fied two priests killed dur­ing the con­flict and warned those present that the peace process needed rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in or­der to work.

The Pope told crowds in the city of Villav­i­cen­cio that rec­on­cil­i­a­tion was vi­tal.

The 2016 peace deal was nar­rowly re­jected at first in a ref­er­en­dum. The gov­ern­ment and the Farc then agreed a deal sev­eral weeks later, which was sub­mit­ted to Congress rather than a sec­ond pop­u­lar vote.

Since then, there have al­ready been cases of mur­ders of for­mer Farc fighters.

Many hope that the Pope can help bring the coun­try to­gether again.

On Wed­nes­day, Colom­bian Pres­i­dent Juan Manuel San­tos told the BBC that the Pope's visit will help Colom­bians to finally make peace.

The Farc agreed to dis­arm and in June of­fi­cially ceased to be an armed group.

The last pa­pal visit to Colom­bia was in 1986. (BBC)

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