Pope Francis speaks with young people in a youth centre dedicated to Pope John Paul II during his visit to Sarajevo, on June 6, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Dado Ruvic *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-POPE-ABUSE, originally transmitted on June 10, 2015.

Colombia peace talks must not fail, says Pope Francis

HAVANA (Reuters) – Pope Francis urged Colombia’s government and Marxist FARC guerrillas on Sunday to ensure that nearly three years of peace talks in Cuba are successful and end their “long night” of war.

“Please, we do not have the right to allow ourselves yet another failure on this path of peace and reconciliation,” the Argentine pontiff said in an address at the end of a Mass he celebrated in Havana’s Revolution Square.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has staked his reputation on reaching a pact with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to end Latin America’s longest insurgency, which has killed some 220,000 people and displaced millions over 50 years.

“May the blood shed by thousands of innocent people during long decades of armed conflict, united to that of the Lord Jesus Christ crucified, sustain all the efforts being made, including those on this beautiful island, to achieve definitive reconciliation,” Francis said.

“Thus may the long night of pain and violence, with the support of all Colombians, become an unending day of concord, justice, fraternity and love, in respect for institutions and for national and international law, so that there may be lasting peace.”

At the negotiations in Havana, Santos’ government and the FARC have reached partial agreements on land reform, an end to drug trafficking, political participation for ex-rebels and efforts to remove land mines. Discussions on victim reparations and demobilization are ongoing.

If they can reach a comprehensive peace deal, it would be placed before Colombian voters for approval.

(Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Kieran Murray)

SpokaneFāVS will be traveling to Philadelphia next weekend to cover Pope Francis’ visit there. Follow our coverage here.

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