FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, alias Timochenko, sent an open letter to Pope Francis hours before the ceremony of reconciliation that the pontiff held in the city of Villavicencio with victims and perpetrators of crimes of Colombia’s historic internal conflict.
Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / September 10, 2017
“I humbly write to you, your Eminence, in my dual condition as a Colombian citizen who has recently been incorporated to the institutional life of the country and as a leader of a new political party that has just been born in the same square where you wisely spoke to the Colombian youth. I do so in a state of profound emotion for your presence in my Motherland, whose people have the privilege of listening to your words of faith, hope, happiness, love, reconciliation and peace.
“I heard a priest say that San Francisco de Asís had been the most faithful of all of Jesus’ followers, and that Your Highness was the pope who most resembled both of them. I’ve closely followed your steps and sermons since your arrival in my country and I can attest that this affirmation is true. Your word of light has come to illuminate the darkness that has covered the life of our nation for so long. God bless you, holy Father.
“I lead an organization that has laid down its arms and has reincorporated to society after more than half a century of war. We’ve declined any manifestation of hatred and violence, we’re moved by the purpose of forgiving those who were our enemies—who caused so much pain to our people—, we’ve made the indispensable act of repentance to acknowledge our mistakes and ask for forgiveness to all the men and women who were in any way victims “of our action.
“Your repeated expositions about God’s infinite misericordy compel me to beg forgiveness for any tear or pain we might have caused to the people of Colombia or any of its members. We were always inspired by the will to achieve the ever-elusive justice for the excluded and the persecuted in our country, and improve somewhat the inequality and the dispossession of the abandoned. We hope that You and your Father understand us.
“As your Excellency knows well, we signed a Final Agreement with the government of Colombia, which brought to an end the longest armed conflict in our continent. From the very moment of the signing we directed our efforts to fulfill the agreements. More than once we’ve encountered lack of commitment by some officials of the state, but our determination never changed.
“I don’t know if it is entirely appropriate to petition that You, with the magnificent power of your prayer, use your voice and also invite the entire Colombian people to pray so that the huge effort we invested in forming the Negotiation Roundtable, discussing it for years, overcoming resistances against the possibility of an agreement and finally pacting the end of conflict and the beginning of stable, durable peace, doesn’t go to waste. We pray for that.
“My health issues prevent me from being physically present in your tour, which promises a brighter future for all Colombians with its slogan “Let’s take the first step”. Your holy word, however, is capable of overcoming distances, and it fills my spirit with joy. The entire world knows about your condemns to satisfaction, to placing personal interest over common good, to destroying nature in search of wealth and to oppressing the weak.
“You have talked about God’s dissatisfaction with the plundering of poor nations by richer ones, with invasions and wars of despoliation, with intolerance to diversity and differences, with the fact that profit and earnings are above human beings and condemn many to cruel destinies. We are truly happy with your revelations. We thank you, Father, for your unwavering defense of life and dignity for all human beings, without exception.
“I’m sure that your trip to Colombia will leave a profound mark in your history. I have seen compatriots of all ages and walks of life come from all corners of the country to listen to your message, to celebrate your presence and your word, and to learn from your humbleness and generosity. I’ve seen men, women and children cry of joy, admire your smile, your kindness and the sparkle in your eye. You can achieve this.
“God is with You, there is no doubt. We pray so that you may always be with Colombia from now on. So that your love may bring the peace, reconciliation and justice that the sons and daughters of this land yearn for. Since you give your first step in this country I felt that finally something would change.
“Your devoted admirer,
“Rodrigo Londoño Echeverry (Timoleón Jiménez)”