The Brexit vote “is the will of the people,” Pope Francis remarked about the outcome of the British referendum, on board the flight from Rome to Armenia. Before greeting each of the journalists travelling with him, one by one,, he also expressed his satisfaction regarding the peace agreement reached between the Colombian government and the country’s militant group, FARC, in Cuba.
Francis does not usually hold press conferences on outgoing flights, he tends to just make a comment or two about the country he is about to visit. This time, however, the events of the past 24 hours changed the unwritten protocol and the Pope answered two questions put to him by Fr. Federico Lombardi.
Regarding the Brexit vote, the Pope’s remark was simple and cautious: “I was informed of the final result on board this plane because when I left the house I had just leafed through Il Messagero and the result was not yet definitive.”
“The people have expressed their will,” Francis continued, “and this requires us to be very responsible and guarantee the wellbeing of the British people as well as wellbeing and peaceful co-existence across the European continent.”
Regarding the historic agreement reached two days ago, which is destined to have a profound effect on Colombia’s future with an end to fighting, the Pope said: “I am delighted to have received this news yesterday. More than 50 years of war, guerrilla warfare and so much bloodshed! It is wonderful news and I hope that the countries that worked to achieve peace can be guarantors, can guarantee that these efforts will be continued.”
Aside from Cuba, the other countries involved in the peace process, include Chile, Venezuela, Norway and UN. An envoy representing US president Barack Obama was also present at the signing of yesterday’s agreement.
Francis expressed the hope that the countries involved in the peace process, “will protect this to the point of ensuring that there is no going back to a state of war, both from the outside and from the inside. All my best wishes to Colombia for taking this step.”
At the start the Pope apologised to the small group of journalists on board the papal flight for having to turn his back to them because the microphone cable was not long enough: “I apologise for speaking to you facing [some of ] you with my back to you. But they say angels don’t have one.”