RELIGION

Colombian church officials: Pope Francis to visit in Sept.

Pope Francis sits on a bus with members of the Roman on their way back to the Vatican at the end of a week long spiritual retreat at the village of Ariccia, near Rome, Friday, March 10, 2017. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

Pope Francis sits on a bus with members of the Roman on their way back to the Vatican at the end of a week long spiritual retreat at the village of Ariccia, near Rome, Friday, March 10, 2017. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

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.

Vatican envoy Ettore Balestrero 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 Sept. 6 and visit three other cities before returning to Rome on Sept. 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.