Friday, June 8, 2012

Colombian kidnapping victims meet the Pope after being freed

For over a decade, this group of Colombian officers and soldiers, went through a living nightmare. After two days of fighting against the country's FARC rebels, they were kidnapped and held captive in a remote jungle. 

JORGE TRUJILLO - Kidnapping Victim (Colombia)
“We lost our ammunition, our weapons were damaged. So eventually we were kidnapped.”

Days turned into years... Even though they were kidnapped at different times, these victims were held captive for 12, 13 and sometimes 14 years. 

One day, through the radio, they heard that Benedict XVI was calling on people to pray for kidnapped victims in Colombia. After hearing those words, they say they developed a new type of hope. 

LUIS ALFREDO MORENO - Kidnapping Victim (Colombia)
“It was a goal I set for myself, while I was held captive. I said to myself 'I will meet the Pope and I won't lose faith or hope.”

That dream became a reality. The victims were released just two months ago. Finally, they were able to meet the Pope during Wednesday's general audience. 

They even presented him with a flag, made especially for the Pope, by one of the victims, as he was held captive. The flag actually reads 'Long Live Freedom.'

CESAR MAURICIO VELASQUEZ - Colombia's Ambassador the the Holy See
“Even after suffering so much, after being held 14, 13, 12 years, in chains, they have now greeted the Pope, as free men. They've healed their hearts and their minds. They want to forgive their kidnappers and remake their lives.”

As part of that healing process, in addition to meeting the Pope, the group also traveled to the Italian town of Assisi to pray before the tomb of St. Francis.

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