On today's special edition we continue our summary coverage of the Pope’s
apostolic journey, as he embarks on the second-leg of his two nation trip. Today, he begins his first full day Peru.
The Holy Father arrived at the International Airport in Lima yesterday evening, where he was officially welcomed by the Peruvian president and greeted by the countries bishops, a military honor guard and a children's orchestra singing the, Hallelujah Chorus. After a short exchange, the Pope left for the residence of the Papal Nuncio where he retired for the evening.
Early this morning however, the Holy Father, wasted no time and hopped a flight to travel east, to Puerto Maldonado where he meet with people of the Amazon at the “Madre de Dios” stadium.
Puerto Maldonado, Peru is known to be the epi-center of illicit gold mining that has not only ravaged the environment, but also pushed indigenous people from their lands. This has resulted in the growth of forced labor and the trafficking of women into prostitution throughout the area.
Men, women, and children from over 50 indigenous communities in Peru made long treks through the Amazon to see the Pope; in hopes of him helping restore their ancestral homeland, and be granted formal land rights. CNS had a chance to talk to some of the indigenous people to get first hand, what their hopes are for the Papal visit. Have a look.
In the meeting, Pope Francis address over 4,000 indigenous peoples of the Amazon where he told them that: “You are a living memory of the mission, that God has entrusted to us all: The ?protection, of our common home”
Referring to the the Amazon as 'sacred', the Pope called for respect, recognition and dialogue with the native groups. He denounced the illegal mining that has caused the environmental contamination of their lands, and called for the condemnation of slave labour and sexual abuse; especially violence against children and women.
The Holy Father also called for the defence and protection of some 64 indigenous groups of Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia all who face of extinction due do the encroachment of the civilized world, onto their ancestral lands.
In a symbolic gesture, he handed them copies of his environmental encyclical “Laudato Si”, translated into their local languages.
Shortly after his meeting with the Indigenous peoples, the Pope also met with the people of Puerto Maldonado at the Jorge Basadre Institute where he told the crowds that, “This is not a land of orphans, but a land that has a Mother. If it has a mother, it has sons and daughters, a family, a community. Where there is a mother, a family and a community, problems may not disappear, but certainly, we can find the strength to confront them differently."
"It is painful", the Pope said, "to see so many women devalued and exposed to endless violence in this land, which is under the protection of the Mother of God. Violence against women cannot be treated as “normal” and, it is not right for us to look the other way and let the dignity of so many women, especially young women, be trampled upon."
He encouraged them to continue organizing movements and communities to help overcome these situations and to gather around the person of Jesus since through prayer and a hope-filled encounter with Christ, we will be able to attain the conversion that leads us to true life.
After a visit to a children's home, and a lunch with representatives of people of the Amazon at the Apaktone Pastoral Center, the Pope returned to Lima in the afternoon. Here he addressed government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and met with the president.
For more details on those events and a look forward to what our broadcast coverage of the Pope's trip to Peru will be over the weekend, please visit our website HERE
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