After waiting to respond to the government's invitation, Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Colombia on Wednesday, September 6, with a message of reconciliation, seeking to encourage a peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas and to help settle the differences and help the country to look forward.

This is his 20th trip abroad as Pontiff and the fifth to his native Latin America. During a five-day stay in the country, Francis will visit the capital Bogotá, Villavicencio, Medellín and the Caribbean Cartagena. With the motto "Let's take the first step," Francis will preside over mass gatherings with parishioners, meet with victims of violence, religious and poor families of this country with marked social and economic differences.

Francis plans to arrive at the Colombian capital at 4:30 pm local time, but the plane that transports him from Rome to Bogotá had to modify his route to avoid the imminent force of Hurricane Irma, category 5.

The airline's AZ4000 flight took off just before 11 am local time (9 GMT) from Rome's Fiumicino airport. Usually, the flight has its route over the territory of Puerto Rico, but the authorities chose to move the ship over the islands of Barbados, Granada and Trinidad and Tobago, according to a Vatican official.

Together with the 80-year-old pontiff, 20 people from the pontifical delegation and 71 journalists will be landing in Colombia.

In a tweet before his departure, Pope Francis asked his followers for prayers during his trip to Colombia. "Dear Friends, please pray for me and all of Colombia, where I will be travelling for a journey dedicated to reconciliation and peace," he wrote. 

Pope Francis also sent a video message to the people of Colombia ahead of his Apostolic Journey, calling Colombia a land “of men and women who have labored with tenacity and perseverance to make it a place where harmony and solidarity reign, where the Gospel is known and loved, and where saying ‘brother and sister’ seems not out of place but a true treasure to protect and defend.”

Finally, the Holy Father said the Church is called “to the task of promoting reconciliation, both with the Lord and between brothers, as well as reconciliation with the environment, which is God’s Creation and which we are savagely exploiting.”