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Pope Francis to visit Colombia in September

Pope Francis greets Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, centre, and former President Alvaro Uribe, at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, handout via Reuters)

Catholic Church officials have announced that Pope Francis will visit Colombia in September.

It will be the first papal visit to the South American country in 31 years.

Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, apostolic nuncio to Colombia, made the announcement in Bogota on Friday alongside President Juan Manuel Santos. The trip was simultaneously announced by the Vatican in a brief statement.

The first Latin American Pope will arrive in Bogota on September 6 and visit three other cities before returning to Rome on September 11.

Authorities have been talking about Francis’ intention to travel to Colombia for over a year but the trip had been delayed several times as the Vatican avoided appearing to take sides in the country’s debate over a peace deal with leftist rebels that Santos signed last year.