Betancourt: Pope, Faith Saved Me

Ex-hostage thanks pontiff for support during 7-year captivity

By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User

Posted Sep 1, 2008 2:54 PM CDT

(Newser) – Ingrid Betancourt realized her dreams today when she met privately with Pope Benedict, Reuters reports. The freed French-Colombian hostage says she was overcome with emotion after hearing the pope appeal for her release on the radio during her 7 years in captivity. The 46-year-old Catholic had never read the Bible—"a dusty old book"—before being abducted, but it is now her "instruction manual for happiness."

"You cannot imagine what this can mean to a person in my situation, a prisoner, to understand you have not been forgotten," she said of hearing the pope on the radio mentioning her by name. Unaware of the protocol, Betancourt hugged the pontiff on meeting him and later said, "Maybe you are not supposed to embrace the pope."

Betancourt met Pope Benedict XVI to thank him for his prayers during her captivity.   (AP Photo)
Ingrid Betancourt speaks during a press conference today after meeting with the pope.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Betancourt, who was released July 2, credited her religious faith with helping her survive more than six years of captivity in the Colombian jungle at the hands of leftist rebels known as FARC.   (AP Photo)
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