We continue today, with our highlight coverage of the Pope’s 22nd apostolic journey, as he embarks on the second leg of his two-nation trip. Pope Francis has now arrived in Peru.
But before we get to that, let’s have a quick look at the Pope’s final moments in Chile. Before joining a youth rally in Santiago yesterday, the Pope finished his visit with the Indigenous peoples of Temuco with a lunch at the Mother of the Holy Cross House where he was joined by eleven diners, eight of them, residents of the house. All seated at the same table, they shared with the Holy Father their life experiences, after which he gave them words of encouragement and his blessings.
The Pope then flew back to Santiago to join a youth rally where he told thousands of young Chileans, to be “protagonists of change” in the nation and in the Church by staying “connected” to Christ and to do what Christ would do in their place.
Speaking to them at the National Shrine of Maipu dedicated to Our Lady of Carmel in Santiago, the Pope spoke about the importance and the experience of young people, saying he wants them, to help the Church to be more faithful to the Gospel, and “for them to be drawn closer to Jesus.”
And before settling in for the night, the Pope made a stop at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile where he challenged the students, staff, and academics at the University to take up the task of generating a new culture of dialogue and social cohesion.
This morning, the Pope traveled two hours by plane to the northern Chilean city of Iquique to say Mass in an area that is home to nearly two dozen migrant slums. Aboard the papal flight, however, something rather unique happened. The Pope performed an impromptu wedding ceremony at 36,000 feet.
During the flight to Iquique, the Pope was approached by LatAm flight steward Carlos Ciuffardi and asked a blessing for him and his wife, also stewardess who was serving on board. The couple was supposed to be married in their home parish in Santiago back in 2010, but an earthquake destroyed the church. Eight years later, they remained only civilly married. After explaining his story to the Pope, the Holy Father surprised the couple with offering to marry them right there on the plane.
Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke explains the journalist on the flight how it all went down.
Now after the ceremony, the Pope jokingly said, “Well, that’s historic. I’ve never performed a wedding on a plane before”, this, as one of the Vatican prelates drew up the handwritten marriage certificate for the happy newlyweds.
After landing in Iquique, the Pope celebrated Mass at Lobito beach where he told a crowd of 50,000 people that, “Christians must be aware of the injustices and exploitation suffered by migrants, and those seeking a better life for themselves and their families”.
In his homily, the Pope praised Iquique as "a land of dreams" that has sheltered "men and women of different cultures who had to leave everything behind and set out." "Let us be attentive”, he said, “ to the lack of steady employment, which destroys lives and homes. Let us be attentive to those who profit from the irregular status of many immigrants, and let us be attentive to the lack of shelter, land, and employment experienced by so many families. The cry of the poor, the Pope said, "opens our hearts and teaches us to be attentive."
Recalling the day's Gospel where Mary informs Jesus of the lack of wine at the wedding feast of Cana, Pope Francis said that, still today, Mary intercedes on behalf of those who lack joy. “So let us not be afraid to raise our voices and say: 'They have no wine," the Pope said.
Iquique is one of the major South American cities that has seen a steady increase of migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular from Venezuela and Haiti. The Pope’s trip to Chile wrapped up today with a lunch at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes Retreat House where, shortly afterward, he departed for the second leg of his two-nation trip and arrived in Lima Peru at approximately 5:30 pm this evening.
Tomorrow, we will have a special edition of Perspectives Daily. I will continue to bring you summary coverage of the Pope’s trip which now continues in Peru, so be sure to join us then.