This week, we continue with our highlight coverage of the Pope’s 2018 apostolic visit to Chile and Peru.
Yesterday evening, the Pope arrived in Santiago after more than fifteen hours in the air, where he was greeted by the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and a young girl. He told the crowd he was happy to be in Chile, and gave a special blessing to the workers at the airport.
While on board the papal flight, he joked with journalists saying that, "Chile won't be too difficult for me because I studied there for a year and I have many friends there. Peru, however, I know less. I have gone maybe two, three times for conferences and meetings."
After the official welcoming and formal greetings, the Pope traveled by car to the residence of the Papal Nuncio to retire for the evening, where he will stay while in Chile.
On the first official day of his trip, the Pope met with government authorities, members of civil society and the diplomatic corps at the presidential palace, where he said that: "although Chile is a nation that has grown and thrived, it is so important not to forget those who suffer situations of injustice".
Speaking to the authorities in the audience, the Pope underlined the importance of being a nation that listens to its people. Chile, he said, needs to listen to the unemployed, to migrants, to its native people, (who are often forgotten), to its young people and especially to it’s elderly who: have much wisdom to impart.
There was a round of applause when Pope Francis asked forgiveness from those who were sexually abused by priests. He expressed his “pain and shame" at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the Church. “I am one with my brother bishops”, he said, “for it is right to ask for forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit to ensuring that such things never happen again.”
Concluding his speech the Pope spoke about the protection of creation, saying that: "Responding to grave ecological and environmental problems, calls us to boldly adopt “a distinctive way of looking at things”, for the common good".
Thousands of people attended the Papal Mass at O’Higgins Park, later that morning where, during his homily, our Holy Father spoke about the beatitudes and told the crowds that, "the Beatitudes is that “new day”, for all those who look to the future, who continue to dream, who allow themselves to be touched and sent forth by the Spirit of God".
"The Beatitudes", the Pope said, are born from the compassionate heart of Jesus, which encounters the hearts of men and women seeking a life of happiness. Men and women who know what it is to suffer, who understand the confusion and pain of having the earth shake beneath their feet, or seeing dreams washed away, or when the work of a lifetime comes to nothing. But it’s also for men and women, who also know what it is to persevere and struggle to keep going.
How much the heart of the Chilean people know about rebuilding and starting anew! How much you know about getting up again after so many falls! that is the heart to which Jesus speaks. That is the heart for which the Beatitudes are meant!
Peacebuilding is a process that calls us together, and stimulates our creativity to foster relationships, where we see our neighbour not as a stranger, but as a son and daughter of this land."
Other events from the day included a visit to the women’s prison, a papal audience with priests, men and women religious, including seminarians and novices at the Cathedral of Santiago. The Pope also met with the Catholic bishops of Chile, then made a visit to the shrine of St. Alberto Hurtado later in the evening. I will bring you highlights of those events tomorrow. Again, we are broadcasting some of these events live on the network so for details, be sure to check our website listed below.
This trip, in particular, poses some unique challenges for the Pope. He faces the enormous task of trying to restore trust and credibility in the Church after clergy scandals rocked both Chile and Peru, leaving many people wounded and angry at the Catholic Church. More recent trips saw the Pope tackle difficult geopolitical issues whereas now, he will focus his efforts on the problems within the local church community itself, in an effort to kick-start the healing process.
Looking ahead to the second leg of the Pope’s trip to Peru, we had a chance to talk to Erika Jacinto, who is the communications director at the Archdiocese of Montreal about why this papal trip to her homeland of Peru is significant to Canadians, and what the Peruvian-Canadian community is expecting from the Pope. Here is what she had to say.
Tomorrow, we will continue with our highlight coverage of the Papal trip with images from his visit to the women’s prison in Santiago and his message to the priests, men and women religious at the cathedral of Santiago, and his visit to the shrine of St. Alberto Hurtado. Be sure to stay tuned.
That is all that for today. Join us again tomorrow when I bring you news and stories from the Perspective of a Catholic lens.