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Bruised pope ends Colombia tour with human rights appeal

The Associated Press

A bruised Pope Francis visits the Sanctuary of St. Peter Claver, in Cartagena, Colombia, on Sunday.

ReutersCARTAGENA, Colombia (Reuters) — Pope Francis, his eye bandaged after a minor accident in the popemobile, wrapped up his trip to Colombia on Sunday appealing for an end to modern forms of slavery and denouncing political violence in neighboring Venezuela.

His last day in the Andean country got off to a rocky start when he lost his balance and bumped his head while riding in the popemobile. He bruised his cheekbone and cut his left eyebrow, blood staining his white cassock.

The Vatican said he received ice treatment and was fine. A smiling pope continued the trip wearing a bandage over his cut. “I was punched. I’m fine,” he joked afterward, the bruises on his face clearly visible.

The pope flew from Bogota to Cartagena, a top tourist destination famous for its colonial walled ramparts that was home to Saint Peter Claver, a Spanish priest who ministered to slaves in Colombia in the 1600s, defying Spanish colonial masters who treated them as chattel.

The pope used the occasion to again decry modern slavery and human trafficking and defend the rights of immigrants.

Human rights groups estimate that millions of people around the world are victims of human trafficking and forms of modern slavery such as forced labor and prostitution.

“Here in Colombia and in the world millions of people are still being sold as slaves; they either beg for some expressions of humanity, moments of tenderness, or they flee by sea or land because they have lost everything, primarily their dignity and their rights,” he said just before praying before Claver’s relics.Speech

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