Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, center left, and first lady Maria Clemencia de Santos arrive at the Colombian Congress in Bogota to present the FARC peace accord on Aug. 25, 2016. Photo courtesty of Reuters/John Vizcaino

Pope welcomes Colombian agreement with rebels

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis has welcomed a groundbreaking deal reached between the Colombian government and rebels that promises to end more than 50 years of violent conflict.

According to a statement released Wednesday (Aug. 31) by the secretariat of state, the pope was “pleased to learn that negotiations have been finalized” after intense discussions.

“He reiterates his support for the goal of attaining the peace and reconciliation of the entire Colombian people, in light of human rights and Christian values, which are at the heart of Latin American culture,” the Vatican statement said.

Last week, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the main leftist rebel group, agreed to end one of the world's longest-running insurgencies. The conflict has claimed more than 220,000 lives and displaced millions of others.

Members of the 51st Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) listen to a lecture on the peace process between the Colombian government and their force at a camp in Cordillera Oriental, Colombia, on August 16, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/John Vizcaino *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-POPE-COLOMBIA, originally transmitted on August 31, 2016.

Members of the 51st Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, listen to a lecture on the peace process between the Colombian government and their force at a camp in Cordillera Oriental, Colombia, on Aug. 16, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/John Vizcaino *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-POPE-COLOMBIA, originally transmitted on Aug. 31, 2016.


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Under the terms of the agreement, FARC will give up its armed struggle and join the legal political process. The cease-fire went into effect last Monday.

The Vatican said the pope had been invited to appoint a representative to a committee that would select the judges for a Special Peace Tribunal.

But he declined, saying it would be more appropriate for the task to be given to parties outside the church, the Vatican said.

FARC fighters are expected to vote on the accord in September and a popular vote is expected in Colombia in early October.