diofav 23

Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

012218 pope peru mainLIMA, Peru — Pope Francis took his message of hope to this sprawling, dusty capital of Peru, celebrating Mass within view of the rocky, waterless Andean slopes where most of the city's poorest residents live.

The day's Scripture readings, in which Jonah was sent to Nineveh and Jesus set out toward Galilee, "reveal a God who turns his gaze toward cities, past and present," the pope said in his homily.

Crowds lined the pope's route to the Las Palmas military base, where thousands of people arrived during the night and throughout the morning to participate in the Mass.

Lima's heat and blazing sun did not wither the spirits of the estimated 1.3 million Mass attendees, who chanted and sang as they waited for the liturgy to begin.

Mariana Costa of Lima felt fortunate. She had missed a chance to see Pope Francis in Poland, she said, "and now I have the opportunity to see him in my own country."

As a young adult, she was touched by his words to youth.

"Ultimately, we're the ones who have to work to make sure this faith is not lost," she said.

Sister Maria Lucero of Lima was struck by three messages the pope had for the priests, religious and seminarians with whom he met in Trujillo the day before.

"He said to remember what we are (and spoke of) joy and gratitude to God for everything we have and do not deserve," she said.

His words kindled a desire to renew her efforts, "because the people here need it," she said.

The scores of concelebrants included Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, who was in Lima to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Boston-based Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle, whose priests have worked in many Latin American countries, including Peru. Cardinal O'Malley had spoken out Jan. 20 about Pope Francis' defense of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse. The cardinal said he understood why victims were hurt by the pope's words.

The place where Pope Francis presided at the liturgy is not far from the vast neighborhood of Villa El Salvador, where Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in 1985, when it was a dusty shantytown in which community leaders, many of whom were active in parishes, were threatened by terrorist violence.

The poorest neighborhoods form rings around Lima and other Latin American cities, as people migrate from other parts of the country in search of opportunities.

Most build their own houses bit by bit, sometimes in hazardous areas vulnerable to disasters, like the unusual rains in early 2017 that left thousands homeless on the east side of Lima and in cities such as Trujillo, which the pope visited Jan. 20.

The majority also work in the informal economy, eking out a living with day labor, selling goods in markets or working in small, family-run businesses with no health insurance, pension or vacation time.

The pope spoke to them when he talked of "our cities, with their daily situations of pain and injustice," which "can leave us tempted to flee, to hide, to run away."

While some people can to build their lives, others are left "living on the fringes of our cities and lacking the conditions needed for a dignified existence," he said. "It is painful to realize that among these 'urban remnants' all too often we see the faces of children and adolescents. We look at the face of the future."

Seeing those things, people may be tempted to become "indifferent, anonymous and deaf to others, cold and hard of heart," he said.

Jesus, who entered Galilee upon hearing of John the Baptist's arrest, and shows a different way to respond, he said.

Jesus "began to sow the seed of a great hope," and the rippling effect of that joy and good news has been passed down through the apostles and saints, including St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin of Porres, whose relics he venerated in the morning, Pope Francis said.

"It has come to us as a timely antidote to the globalization of indifference," he said. "In the face of that love, one cannot remain indifferent."

Walking through the city with his disciples, Jesus saw people who had "given up in the face of indifference, laid low by the grave sin of corruption," Pope Francis said. "He begins to bring light to many situations that had killed the hope of his people and to awaken a new hope."

Jesus taught his disciples to see things they had overlooked before and to notice new needs, he said.

"The kingdom of heaven means finding in Jesus a God who gets involved with the lives of his people."

His words rang especially true after six days in which he raised issues such as corruption, rapacious consumerism, environmental devastation, organized crime, violence against women and industrial activities such as mining and industrial agriculture, which strip indigenous peoples of their lands and livelihoods.

As he often does, the pope challenged bishops and clergy to avoid clericalism and walk closely with the people. He called on government officials to listen to and respond to the needs of native peoples, youth, the elderly and children.

Jesus "continues to walk on our streets. He knocks today, as he did yesterday, on our doors and hearts, in order to rekindle the flame of hope," the pope told the throng of Mass-goers.

"Today the Lord calls each of you to walk with him in the city, in your city. He invites you to become his missionary disciple, so you can become part of that great whisper that wants to keep echoing in the different corners of our lives: Rejoice, the Lord is with you!"

— Barbara J. Fraser, Catholic News Service

012218 pope peru mainLIMA, Peru — Pope Francis took his message of hope to this sprawling, dusty capital of Peru, celebrating Mass within view of the rocky, waterless Andean slopes where most of the city's poorest residents live.

The day's Scripture readings, in which Jonah was sent to Nineveh and Jesus set out toward Galilee, "reveal a God who turns his gaze toward cities, past and present," the pope said in his homily.

Crowds lined the pope's route to the Las Palmas military base, where thousands of people arrived during the night and throughout the morning to participate in the Mass.

Lima's heat and blazing sun did not wither the spirits of the estimated 1.3 million Mass attendees, who chanted and sang as they waited for the liturgy to begin.

Mariana Costa of Lima felt fortunate. She had missed a chance to see Pope Francis in Poland, she said, "and now I have the opportunity to see him in my own country."

As a young adult, she was touched by his words to youth.

"Ultimately, we're the ones who have to work to make sure this faith is not lost," she said.

Sister Maria Lucero of Lima was struck by three messages the pope had for the priests, religious and seminarians with whom he met in Trujillo the day before.

"He said to remember what we are (and spoke of) joy and gratitude to God for everything we have and do not deserve," she said.

His words kindled a desire to renew her efforts, "because the people here need it," she said.

The scores of concelebrants included Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, who was in Lima to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Boston-based Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle, whose priests have worked in many Latin American countries, including Peru. Cardinal O'Malley had spoken out Jan. 20 about Pope Francis' defense of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse. The cardinal said he understood why victims were hurt by the pope's words.

The place where Pope Francis presided at the liturgy is not far from the vast neighborhood of Villa El Salvador, where Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in 1985, when it was a dusty shantytown in which community leaders, many of whom were active in parishes, were threatened by terrorist violence.

The poorest neighborhoods form rings around Lima and other Latin American cities, as people migrate from other parts of the country in search of opportunities.

Most build their own houses bit by bit, sometimes in hazardous areas vulnerable to disasters, like the unusual rains in early 2017 that left thousands homeless on the east side of Lima and in cities such as Trujillo, which the pope visited Jan. 20.

The majority also work in the informal economy, eking out a living with day labor, selling goods in markets or working in small, family-run businesses with no health insurance, pension or vacation time.

The pope spoke to them when he talked of "our cities, with their daily situations of pain and injustice," which "can leave us tempted to flee, to hide, to run away."

While some people can to build their lives, others are left "living on the fringes of our cities and lacking the conditions needed for a dignified existence," he said. "It is painful to realize that among these 'urban remnants' all too often we see the faces of children and adolescents. We look at the face of the future."

Seeing those things, people may be tempted to become "indifferent, anonymous and deaf to others, cold and hard of heart," he said.

Jesus, who entered Galilee upon hearing of John the Baptist's arrest, and shows a different way to respond, he said.

Jesus "began to sow the seed of a great hope," and the rippling effect of that joy and good news has been passed down through the apostles and saints, including St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin of Porres, whose relics he venerated in the morning, Pope Francis said.

"It has come to us as a timely antidote to the globalization of indifference," he said. "In the face of that love, one cannot remain indifferent."

Walking through the city with his disciples, Jesus saw people who had "given up in the face of indifference, laid low by the grave sin of corruption," Pope Francis said. "He begins to bring light to many situations that had killed the hope of his people and to awaken a new hope."

Jesus taught his disciples to see things they had overlooked before and to notice new needs, he said.

"The kingdom of heaven means finding in Jesus a God who gets involved with the lives of his people."

His words rang especially true after six days in which he raised issues such as corruption, rapacious consumerism, environmental devastation, organized crime, violence against women and industrial activities such as mining and industrial agriculture, which strip indigenous peoples of their lands and livelihoods.

As he often does, the pope challenged bishops and clergy to avoid clericalism and walk closely with the people. He called on government officials to listen to and respond to the needs of native peoples, youth, the elderly and children.

Jesus "continues to walk on our streets. He knocks today, as he did yesterday, on our doors and hearts, in order to rekindle the flame of hope," the pope told the throng of Mass-goers.

"Today the Lord calls each of you to walk with him in the city, in your city. He invites you to become his missionary disciple, so you can become part of that great whisper that wants to keep echoing in the different corners of our lives: Rejoice, the Lord is with you!"

— Barbara J. Fraser, Catholic News Service

Church in Peru must resist division, pope tells bishops, nuns

Church in Peru must resist division, pope tells bishops, nuns

LIMA, Peru — Speaking to Peru's contemplative nuns and to the nation's bishops, Pope Francis said that while tensions and differences are inevitable, the church must be ready to deal with them "in a spirit of unity, honesty and sincere dialogue."

"Do not remain prisoners of divisions that create cliques and hamper our vocation to be a sacrament of communion," he told the bishops. "Remember: What was attractive about the early church was how they loved one another. That was -- and is and always will be -- the best way to evangelize."

The pope began his final day in Peru, Jan. 21, by joining contemplative nuns in praying mid-morning prayer at the Shrine of the Lord of the Miracles in Lima.

Devotion to the Lord of the Miracles dates to the mid-1600s, when an African slave painted a crucifixion scene on a wall in Lima. According to tradition, the archbishop sent workers to destroy, erase or paint over the image, but each effort was miraculously frustrated.

In 1687, a violent earthquake leveled the city but left the wall with the image unscathed. The devotion received official approval, and for centuries, a replica of the original image has been carried in procession every year.

As the sisters chanted the prayer, the pope followed along, sitting in front of the sacred image revered by the Peruvian faithful.

Sharing several lighthearted moments with the nuns, the pope called on them to become love personified through prayer so that, through their cloistered life, they may "attain a missionary and universal outreach and play a fundamental role in the life of the church."

He also asked them to pray "for the unity of this beloved Peruvian church which is tempted by disunity." The pope would echo that message a little later when he met with the country's bishops.

But before meeting the bishops, the pope stopped at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Lima where he prayed before the relics of Peruvian saints, including St. Turibius of Mogrovejo, the 16th-century Spanish archbishop of Lima and patron saint of Latin American bishops.

Known for his tireless efforts to unite the church in Peru, St. Turibius was dubbed "the protector of the indigenous" for his efforts in evangelizing the native populations and translating the catechism into the native languages of Quechua and Aymara.

Like their patron saint, the pope said, Peru's bishops must learn the "completely new languages" of the digital age and "know the real language of our young people, our families, our children."

"We have to be able to speak their language," the pope said. "We need to get to the places where new stories and paradigms are being born, to bring the word of Jesus to the very heart of our cities and our peoples. The evangelization of culture requires us to enter into the heart of culture itself, so that it can be illuminated from within by the Gospel.

Drawing from several examples of St. Turibius' fight against corruption and injustices done to the indigenous people, Pope Francis said the saint set "himself against a whole system of corruption and a web of interests which drew upon him the enmity of many."

Bishops also need this "episcopal spirit of prophecy" that is not afraid of denouncing abuses against their flock.

"There can be no authentic evangelization that does not point out and denounce every sin against the lives of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are most vulnerable," the pope said.

Taking advantage of being ahead of schedule, Pope Francis spent some time taking questions from the country's bishops, listening to their concerns and accepting requests to pose for photos with some of them. Among the topics the bishops raised was the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Amazon.

The pope said he first heard of the plight of the people of the Amazon during the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean in 2007 in Aparecida, Brazil.

"Eight years later came 'Laudato Si'' and I began to understand. The natural reserves were declining, so was the cultural wealth of the people and I didn't know. Well, I did know but there I began to understand," he said.

Pope Francis announced in October that the synod on the Amazon region will take place in Rome in October 2019; he said it will seek to identify new paths of evangelization, especially for indigenous people who are "often forgotten and left without the prospect of a peaceful future."

The pope ended the morning praying the Angelus with Peruvian young people and inviting them to get involved with the next synod, which will be this October and focus on youth. "Your faces, your questions and your lives are important for the church, and we need to give them the importance they deserve," he told them.

Look to the saints of Peru as examples of hope and don't be discouraged "about ourselves or about others," he told them, adding that things in life that are hard to accept cannot simply be digitally enhanced.

"There are pictures that are very nice, but completely fake. Let me assure you that the heart can't be photoshopped, because that's where authentic love and genuine happiness are found," Pope Francis said.

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Gospel gives strength to weather life's storms, pope tells Peruvians

Gospel gives strength to weather life's storms, pope tells Peruvians

TRUJILLO, Peru — Encouraging the people of one of Peru's most battered cities, Pope Francis said the Gospel message can give Christians strength and hope to navigate amid life's storms.

Celebrating Mass Jan. 20 in the northern coastal city of Trujillo, Pope Francis said he knew the tragic consequences the people have suffered because of an unusual weather pattern that meteorologists dubbed a "coastal El Nino."

"Like the apostles, you know the power of nature, you have experienced its force," the pope said in his homily at the Mass on Huanchaco beach. "Just as the apostles faced the storm on the sea, you had to face the brunt of the coastal El Nino, whose painful consequences are still present in so many families, especially those who are not yet able to rebuild their homes."

In early 2017, Trujillo suffered torrential rains that triggered a series of landslides from the Andean foothills to the east, sending water and mud cascading into the city.

The areas most affected were poor neighborhoods, especially Buenos Aires, the neighborhood the pope was to tour in his popemobile after the Mass.

The Peruvian regions of Piura, Lambayeque and La Libertad, whose capital is Trujillo, were all hit. At least 100 people died, more than 140,000 lost their homes and nearly 1 million suffered property damage. Total damage estimates range from $3 billion to more than $6 billion.

However, Pope Francis said he also was aware of the "other storms" that "can hit these coasts with devastating effects on the lives of the children of these lands" and test the spirit of Trujillo's citizens.

"Among these are organized violence, like 'contract killings,' and the insecurity that they breed. Or the lack of educational and employment opportunities, especially among young people, which prevents them from building a future with dignity. Or the lack of secure housing for so many families forced to live in highly unstable areas without safe access," the pope said.

According to local government statistics, Trujillo is the second most violent city in Peru after Lima, with 2,435 people murdered in 2016 due to gang-related contract killings.

The city has seen an increasing rate of organized crime, with extortion being a common practice in the construction and transportation industries. Peru is one of the world's top cocaine producers and Trujillo, like other port cities, it suffers from drug-related crime because much of the cocaine is shipped out by sea.

The organized crime gangs have hired minors as assassins because they assume the youngsters will get lighter sentences if caught -- and because they are considered expendable.

Yet the pope assured the people that Jesus "knows our pain and our trials" and wants to "be close to us in every painful situation to give us a hand and help lift us up."

"These times of being 'buffeted' call into question and challenge our strength of spirit and our deepest convictions," he said. "They make us realize how important it is to stand united, not alone, and to be filled with that unity which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit."

Pope Francis encouraged the people of Trujillo to remain close to Jesus and rely on the Holy Spirit, "who keeps us united so that we can support one another and take a stand against whatever would take away all that is best in our families."

"Fill your lives always with the Gospel," the pope said. "With Jesus, the soul of this town of Trujillo can continue to be called 'the city of eternal spring,' because with him, everything is an opportunity for hope."

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

At Peruvian Marian celebration, pope urges end to violence against women

At Peruvian Marian celebration, pope urges end to violence against women

LIMA, Peru — Praying before a beloved statue of Mary in the northern city of Trujillo, Pope Francis acknowledged the deep faith of Peruvians but also acknowledged the serious problem of violence against women.

The statue of Our Lady of the Gate, or the Virgen de la Puerta, had been taken to Trujillo from a shrine in the town of Otuzco, in the Andean foothills, accompanied by dancers and musicians who have a special devotion to her.

At the Marian celebration Jan. 20, the pope said the packed main plaza of this colonial city had been "transformed into an open-air sanctuary in which we all want to let our Mother look upon us with her maternal and tender gaze."

He said Mary knew of the tears, laughter and longings of the people of northern Peru, and that the people knew she was a mother who would never abandon them.

His words came shortly after he visited a neighborhood struck by landslides and flooding nearly a year ago, where people who lost their homes are still living in tents and precarious prefabricated wooden rooms.

Some 40 statues from shrines that are sites of popular devotions had been taken to Trujillo, first to the morning Mass site, then to the plaza.

Most date to colonial times, when Spanish missionaries established Christian shrines in places where people had traditionally worshipped. On their feast days, the shrines draw thousands of pilgrims in devotions that are both communal and very personal.

Naming some of the statues and their places of origin, Pope Francis said Mary and the saints "help us remain joyful in hope" and declared Our Lady of the Gate "the Mother of Mercy and Hope."

The message resonated with residents who are still recovering from last year's disaster.

"We've been waiting for so many hours, but with such joy, to see him and for him to bless us," a woman who identified herself as Maribel said of the pope. She was most touched by his urging "that we not lose our hope," she said.

Earlier in the afternoon, Pope Francis had suggested to priests, religious and seminarians that young people entering religious life be encouraged to pray as their mothers and grandmothers had taught them at home.

He mentioned mothers and grandmothers again in the plaza, calling them "the true driving force of life and of the families of Peru" and "a bastion in the life of our cities."

"Almost always in silence, they carry life forward," he said. "It is the silence and strength of hope. Thank you for your witness."

Echoing a theme he had mentioned the day before in the Amazonian town of Puerto Maldonado, the pope decried violence against women, which is widespread in Latin America.

He asked his listeners to fight the "scourge" of "femicide," or murders of women simply because they are women, usually perpetrated by men. Studies have shown that about 100 women are killed in such cases in Peru every year, and 14 of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide in the world are in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to U.N. statistics.

Pope Francis also urged his listeners to combat "the many situations of violence that are kept quiet behind so many walls" by "calling for legislation and a culture that repudiates every form of violence."

Besides speaking out for justice, the pope called on his listeners to imitate Mary in compassion. "For there is no better medicine to cure many wounds than a heart that is compassionate before sorrow and misfortune, a heart compassionate (about) people's mistakes and their desire to change," even when they do not know where to start.

— Barbara J. Fraser Catholic News Service

Laughter defeats temptation of self-importance, pope tells religious

Laughter defeats temptation of self-importance, pope tells religious

TRUJILLO, Peru — Laughter is the best medicine for religious men and women to overcome the temptation of feeling too important or being too busy to serve others, Pope Francis said.

A joyful self-awareness can help those in religious life to not "slack in the work of evangelization" and keep clear from a Messiah complex, the pope told priests, seminarians and men and women in consecrated life from various parts of Peru.

"Yes, learning to laugh at ourselves gives us the spiritual ability to stand before the Lord with our limitations, our mistakes and our sins, but also our successes, and the joy of knowing that he is at our side," the pope said Jan. 20.

However, he also told them "to laugh in community and not at the community or at others."

Pope Francis offered two prescriptions for laughing at oneself. First, "talk to Jesus and Mary" and ask for "the grace of joy," he said, and second, "look at yourself in the mirror."

His remark was followed by laughter and applause, then someone in the audience shouted, "Narcissism." Not missing a beat, the pope added: "And this is not narcissism. On the contrary, it's the opposite. Here the mirror serves as a cure."

In his speech, the pope said religious men and women must be marked by joy and gratitude, "which enlarges the heart and inspires us to service."

The faithful, he added, "have a sense of smell" that allows "them to distinguish a functionary of the sacred from a grateful servant."

"The people of God are patient, but they also know who serves and heals their wounds with the balm of joy and gratitude," the pope said.

Priests, seminarians and consecrated men and women are also called be signs of communion and unity, which means to discern what everyone has to offer while respecting each other's differences.

In doing so, they can distribute the gifts they have received "while being enriched by that of others."

"We must be on guard against the temptation of the 'only child,' who wants everything for himself, because there is no one to share it with," Pope Francis said.

"Try to care for your brothers and sisters; try to keep them happy, because happiness is contagious," the pope said.

Urging his listeners to look to their roots and be "people of memory," he told them to recall the moment when they felt God looking at them and calling them. They should not only pray, but should sit and "let God look at you," he said. "The most valuable thing a religious has is the gaze of the Lord."

Elderly priests and religious are "the people of greatest memory," Pope Francis said.

"It is important that our communities keep memory alive and that there be dialogue between the youngest and the oldest," he said.

Saying that older people sometimes feel abandoned, he urged his listeners to send young priests, sisters and seminarians to talk to elderly priests and bishops.

"They say nuns don't age because they are eternal," he added, to laughter.

When the young talk with elderly priests and religious and ask them questions, "their eyes will shine, and they will begin to dream," he said.

Paraphrasing the prophet Joel, he added: "And if the young make the old dream, I assure you that the old will make the young prophesy. Care for your roots."

Afterward, en route to a Marian celebration at the Plaza de Armas, Pope Francis fulfilled the wish of a 99-year-old woman, Trinidad, a Trujillo resident who is blind and asked to touch his hand. Pope Francis saw a sign held above her, got out of his popemobile and greeted her.

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Pope meets Chilean abuse victims; controversy over bishop continues

Pope meets Chilean abuse victims; controversy over bishop continues

SANTIAGO, Chile — Pope Francis met in private Jan. 16 with survivors of sexual abuse by Chilean clergy, a Vatican spokesman said, but his actions threatened to be overshadowed by controversy over a Chilean bishop.

Greg Burke, the spokesman, said the pope met with "a small group of victims of sexual abuse by priests" at the apostolic nunciature in Santiago, Chile.

"The meeting took place in a strictly private way, and no one else was present: only the pope and the victims," Burke told journalists that evening.

The private setting, he added, allowed the group to speak freely with the pope "and recount their sufferings.

Pope Francis "listened, prayed and cried with them," Burke said.

Also present at the press conference was Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, secretary-general of the Chilean bishops' conference.

Bishop Ramos addressed criticism regarding the presence of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno at several papal events, including the pope's meetings with the country's clergy as well as the bishops of Chile.

Bishop Barros' appointment as bishop by the pope in 2015 drew outrage and protests due to his connection to Father Fernando Karadima, his former mentor. Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

"Bishop Barros is bishop of Osorno and was named by the pope. All bishops have the right and responsibility to participate at the events. That was the only reason why" he was present, Bishop Ramos said.

Arriving in Iquique Jan. 18 at the site of his final Mass in Chile, Pope Francis was asked by local journalists about his support for Bishop Barros.

The pope reiterated that he has yet to see any evidence that Bishop Barros knew or witnessed the abuses committed by his former mentor.

"The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak. There is not one piece of evidence against him. It is calumny. Is that clear?" the pope told the journalists.

On Jan. 20, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, "It is understandable that Pope Francis' statements yesterday in Santiago, Chile, were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy or any other perpetrator. Words that convey the message 'If you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed' abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile.

"Not having been personally involved in the cases that were the subject of yesterday's interview, I cannot address why the Holy Father chose the particular words he used at that time. What I do know, however, is that Pope Francis fully recognizes the egregious failures of the church and its clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones," Cardinal O'Malley said.

Cardinal O'Malley was traveling to Peru on a previously scheduled trip. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston said the trip was not related to his statement on Bishop Barros, but that he expected the cardinal would "be with the Holy Father at some point, as he normally is when he accompanies him on a papal trip."

Pope Francis named Cardinal O'Malley president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors when he established the body in 2014. The initial members' terms of office expired in December and, as of mid-January, the Vatican had not announced new members.

Earlier Jan. 16, the pope asked forgiveness from the victims of sexual abuse during an address to government authorities and members of Chile's diplomatic corps, expressing his "pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the church."

Burke said it was significant the pope addressed the issue of clergy sex abuse during his meeting with government authorities "because normally he speaks about it when meeting with bishops or priests."

"The fact that he spoke there means that it is an evil not only for the church but for society," Burke said.

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Pope Francis calls for church with 'Amazonian and indigenous' face

Pope Francis calls for church with 'Amazonian and indigenous' face

011918 pope peruPUERTO MALDONADO, Peru — Pope Francis called on indigenous people of the Amazon to work with missionaries and bishops to shape a church with an "Amazonian and indigenous" face.

The pope pledged the church's "whole-hearted option for the defense of life, the defense of the earth and the defense of cultures" and called his audience to work together toward the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, which he has called for 2019.

"The native Amazonian peoples have probably never been so threatened on their own lands as they are at present," Pope Francis said. "Amazonia is not only a reserve of biodiversity, but also a cultural reserve that must be preserved in the face of the new forms of colonialism."

He also called for a change in the consumer culture that extracts resources from the Amazon without regard for the people who live there, and he had harsh words for officials who consider indigenous people an obstacle to development.

"Your lives cry out against a style of life that is oblivious to its own real cost," the pope told the audience of some 2,500 indigenous people from Peru, Brazil and Bolivia.

Upon his arrival in this Amazonian town, the pope was welcomed by children who chanted, "Pope Francis is Amazonian now." Once in Madre de Dios stadium, dancers in feathered headdresses accompanied him as he greeted the crowd.

Members of various indigenous peoples presented the pope with gifts that reflected their culture, including a basket, painting, book and woven stole. The pope left the stadium wearing a feathered headdress and strings of beads typically worn by community chiefs, presented to him by Santiago Manuin Valera, an Awajun leader from northern Peru.

The pope said he had come to listen to the people of this Amazonian region, which is rich in natural resources and indigenous cultures but increasingly devastated by illegal mining, deforestation and social problems.

A Harakbut woman and man and an Awajun woman described the threats their peoples face from outsiders who take timber and other resources from their lands, as well as their fear that their cultures could disappear and their efforts to keep those cultures alive

The pope echoed their concerns, listing oil and gas, mining, logging, industrial agriculture and even conservation programs as activities that do not take indigenous peoples into account, but "strangle" them and force young people to migrate because of a lack of alternatives.

"We have to break with the historical paradigm that views Amazonia as an inexhaustible source of supplies for other countries without concern for its inhabitants," he said.

On his journey to the Amazon, the pope flew over an area where illegal gold mining has carved huge, cratered, polluted scars visible from outer space. He noted that the mining has been accompanied by the trafficking of people for sex and labor.

The day before his visit, in a meeting with Amazonian bishops, representatives of various indigenous delegations said they hoped the pope would urge governments to respect their rights, especially by demarcating their territories and respecting laws requiring officials to consult indigenous communities about development projects that would affect them.

Without mentioning titling or prior consent laws directly, the pope called for "institutional expressions" of respect and dialogue with native peoples.

"Recognition and dialogue will be the best way to transform relationships whose history is marked by exclusion and discrimination," he said.

The pope praised the church's work among native peoples in the Amazon, although he acknowledged errors. In many parts of the Amazon, missionaries started the first schools for indigenous children.

While noting that education and building schools is the government's job, Pope Francis urged the Amazonian bishops to continue to encourage intercultural and bilingual education in schools, universities and teacher training programs.

Echoing the Harakbut speakers who had greeted him, he emphasized that education for native people must "build bridges and create a culture of encounter," in a way that "respects and integrates their ancestral wisdom as a treasure belonging to the whole nation."

The pope praised young indigenous people who are "working to reinterpret the history of their peoples from their own perspective," as well as those who "show the world your worldview and your cultural richness" through art, music, crafts and literature.

"Much has been written and spoken about you," he said. "It is good that you are now the ones to define yourselves and show us your identity. We need to listen to you."

The pope urged his listeners, many of whom are pastoral agents in remote rural communities and poor urban areas, not to let their people's Catholic faith be uprooted. Each culture "enriches the church by showing a new aspect of Christ's face," he said.

Pope Francis encouraged them to draw on the wisdom of their peoples, especially elders, to counter the pressures they face and to dialogue with missionaries and bishops.

"We need the native peoples to shape the culture of the local churches in Amazonia," he said.

— Barbara J. Fraser, Catholic News Service

'Machismo' culture blinds women's leading role in society, pope says

'Machismo' culture blinds women's leading role in society, pope says

PUERTO MALDONADO, Peru — Society cannot look the other way and allow a culture that demeans the dignity of women to persist, Pope Francis said.

Speaking to the people of Puerto Maldonado, located in the region known as Madre de Dios ("Mother of God"), Pope Francis said it was sad to see how "in this land, which is under the protection of the Mother of God, so many women are devalued, denigrated and exposed to endless violence."

"Violence against women cannot be treated as 'normal,' maintaining a culture of machismo blind to the leading role that women play in our communities," the pope said.

Thousands of pilgrims gathered in an open field at the Jorge Basadre Institute, many traveling from other parts of the country to see the pope. Some traveled 12 hours by bus from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado, and others camped out in the early morning.

One woman, Andrea, traveled all the way from Mazuco, over 100 miles east of Puerto Maldonado. She told one journalist that she traveled three hours, "a little by bus and a lot of walking."

"I can't believe he's here, much less that I made it here too," she said.

Despite temperatures hovering slightly above 90 degrees, the sweltering heat did little to stifle the joy of the people who waved flags bearing the papal colors and chanting, "Francisco, amigo, la selva esta contigo" ("Francis, friend, the jungle is with you.")

In his address, the pope said the diverse peoples of Puerto Maldonado who came from the far reaches of the Amazon represent a "beautiful image" of a church without borders "where all peoples have a place."

"How much we need moments like these, to be together and, regardless of our place of origin, to inspire us to build a culture of encounter that renews us in hope," the pope said.

The people of Madre de Dios, he continued, can look to the example of Mary, who also came from a small village considered a "no man's land" yet was chosen for something great.

Mary, he added, can also give them a sense of belonging.

"This is not a land of orphans, but a land that has a mother! And 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 we certainly find the strength to confront them differently," the pope said.

Puerto Maldonado, located in southeastern Peru, is known locally as "the capital of biodiversity." However, gold mining and exploitation of people and resources threaten the lives of its inhabitants and risks the extinction of the area's exotic wildlife and vegetation.

Denouncing the evils of exploitation, the pope said although many are accustomed to the term "human trafficking," in reality it is nothing more than "slavery for work, sexual slavery, slavery for profit."

He also warned of a "motherless culture" that exploits the environment and its inhabitants and "only wants to consume."

"The earth is treated in accordance with this logic. Forests, rivers and streams are exploited mercilessly, then left barren and unusable. Persons are also treated in the same way: They are used until someone gets tired of them, then abandoned as useless," the pope said.

People's desire for a better life can also be exploited by working dangerous mines with the promises of finding gold, which "can turn into a false god that demands human sacrifices," Pope Francis warned.

"False gods, the idols of avarice, money and power, corrupt everything. They corrupt people and institutions, and they ruin the forest. Jesus said that there are demons that require much prayer to expel. This is one of them," the pope said.

The pope encouraged the people of Puerto Maldonado to unite as a people of faith so that they may experience the true life that comes from Christ and "not a make-believe life, like the one offered by all those dazzling false promises; they promise life, but lead us to death."

He also called on them to care for and love their land, which contains "one of the most exuberant explosions of life on the planet."

"Love this land, realize that it belongs to you. Breathe it in, listen to it, marvel at it. Fall in love with this land called Madre de Dios, commit yourself to it and care for it. Do not use this land as a mere disposable object, but as a genuine treasure to be enjoyed, cultivated and entrusted to your children," Pope Francis said.

Later, the pope greeted children and teens at Hogar Principito, a home for abandoned and orphaned children, founded by Swiss missionary Father Xavier Arbex.

The visit was meant to encourage the children, Father Arbex told Catholic News Service.

Saying the children are the reflection of Jesus, Pope Francis called them "the loveliest treasure, for which we must care."

He asked them to forgive "the times when we adults do not do that, or when we do not give you the importance you deserve."

He urged them not to forget that when they grow up, because "your gaze, your lives always demand a greater commitment and effort, so that we do not become blind or indifferent to so many other children who suffer and are in need."

Noting that some of the children were from indigenous communities, the pope said their grandparents had helped them discover the forest as a source of food and healing plants.

"Today those forests are devastated by the whirlwind of a misunderstood concept of progress," he said. "The rivers where you played, and which gave you food, are muddied, polluted, dead."

He urged his young listeners not to simply accept those changes.

"Do not renounce the legacy of your grandparents; do not renounce your life or your dreams," he said.

The pope thanked Father Arbex for his example to the religious and laypeople who work with him, as well as those who "strengthen these young people in their Amazonian identities and help them forge a better future for their communities and the entire planet."

Father Arbex arrived in Peru in 1975 to work in the Andean highlands, but as more of his parishioners migrated to the Amazon basin to work in the dangerous, unregulated gold mining there, he moved to the Madre de Dios region to be near them.

Many people die or simply disappear in the mines, and there are serious health problems because of the poor working conditions and exposure to mercury, which is used to extract the gold.

The cascade of social problems -- including violence, health problems and family instability -- "has an impact on children," Father Arbex told Catholic News Service.

The home has between 30 and 40 children at any given time. Father Arbex also started three businesses: an office- and school-supply shop, a cafe on the main plaza in Puerto Maldonado, and a nature tourism lodge. The businesses cover about half the home's expenses and provide work experience for the older residents of the home.

The young people in Father Arbex's care range from age 3 to 25. Teens and young adults can stay until they are able to make their own way in the world.

"It's like a family," he said.

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

In Peru, Pope Francis likely to return to themes addressed in Chile

In Peru, Pope Francis likely to return to themes addressed in Chile

LIMA, Peru — Pope Francis was greeted by the Peruvian president, the country's bishops, a military honor guard and a children's orchestra on his arrival in Peru on Jan. 18. During his visit, he will meet with Amazonian indigenous people from three countries, visit a neighborhood devastated by flooding early last year, and pray in the place of Peru's greatest popular religious devotion.

Accompanied by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynsky, the pope heard the "Hallelujah Chorus" sung by a choir accompanied by a children's orchestra. The bishops filed past, greeting the president, and the Cabinet ministers then greeted the pope, who blessed a religious item for one.

Helicopters buzzed overhead and security was heavy along the motorcade route from the airport to the nuncio's residence, where he will stay, while onlookers waved and some chanted "Pope Francis, we want your blessing."

In Peru, he is likely to return to several themes that marked his visit to Chile. In the southeastern town of Puerto Maldonado, members of various Amazonian indigenous peoples will ask for his support in defense of their rights to territory, health, education and their indigenous identity. Those demands echo sentiments expressed by Mapuche people in southern Chile.

Visiting the Amazonian area where forests have been obliterated by unregulated gold mining, the pope will call on Christians to care for "our common home," as he did in the encyclical, "Laudato Si'."

Pope Francis also is expected to mention migration and human trafficking. Thousands of migrants, mainly from Venezuela, have arrived in Peru in recent years in search of better opportunities. The gold-mining area around Puerto Maldonado is a destination for human traffickers, who force women into prostitution.

As he did in Chile, he is likely to raise the issue of sexual abuse by church workers, in the wake of accusations against leaders of Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a Catholic movement founded in Lima in the 1970s. The Vatican recently named a Colombian bishop to oversee the group because of concerns about formation and financial management.

The trip will highlight the deep faith that Peruvian Catholics express through popular religious devotions in various parts of the country.

On Jan. 19, the pope will meet with indigenous people from the Amazonian regions of Peru, Brazil and Bolivia. The event will mark the first step toward the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, which Pope Francis has called for 2019. He also will meet with civil society representatives and visit a children's home founded by a Swiss missionary priest.

After returning to Lima in the afternoon, he will address government officials, civil society representatives and members of the diplomatic corps and speak with Kuczynski. He also will meet with fellow Jesuits at the ornate colonial San Pedro Church in downtown Lima.

On the second day of his trip, Pope Francis will travel to Trujillo, on Peru's northern coast. He will visit the neighborhood of Buenos Aires, where houses were inundated with 3-5 feet of water and mud during unseasonable flooding in March 2016. Father Hipolito Puricaza Sernaque, secretary-general of the diocesan Caritas office, said people hope the pope's words during his trip will "soften the hearts of those responsible for the (post-flood) reconstruction, bring hope and renew our faith in God."

He also will celebrate an open-air Mass on the beach. Pilgrims from various parts of northern Peru will greet the pope with images of Jesus and Mary that are central to popular devotions in their regions. The pope will pray before the Marian images, particularly the one known as the Virgen de la Puerta, or Our Lady of the Gate, before returning to Lima.

On Jan. 21, Pope Francis will visit the shrine of Our Lord of the Miracles, Peru's largest popular devotion, and pray before the relics of Peruvian saints, including St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin of Porres. He also will meet with the country's bishops and pray the Angelus in Lima's main plaza before celebrating an open-air Mass.

— Barbara J. Fraser, Catholic News Service

Poor, environment plagued by 'social virus' of corruption, pope says

Poor, environment plagued by 'social virus' of corruption, pope says

LIMA, Peru — Governments, private entities and church communities have an obligation to be transparent to protect their people and land from the scourge of corruption, Pope Francis said.

Addressing Peruvian government authorities and members of the country's diplomatic corps Jan. 19, the pope said corruption is an often "subtle form of environmental degradation that increasingly contaminates the whole system of life."

"How much evil is done to our Latin American people and the democracies of this continent by this social 'virus,' a phenomenon that infects everything, with the greatest harm being done to the poor and mother earth," the pope said.

Pope Francis returned to Lima after visiting the southeastern city of Puerto Maldonado. The pope was headed to the Government Palace when a tire of the Fiat 500 he rode in snagged against a road marker, causing a flat. The pope was immediately escorted to another vehicle for the rest of the drive to the presidential palace.

After being welcomed by Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the pope began his address by praising the richness of Peru as evidenced by the biodiversity of the Amazon and the variety of cultures "characterized by ancestral values such as hospitality, esteem for others, respect and gratitude for Mother Earth and creativity for new initiatives."

Peru's historical treasure, he added, also lies in its holiness, producing numerous saints who have "blazed paths of faith for the entire American continent."

However, Pope Francis warned of several looming threats that seek to tear apart Peruvians' wealth, especially the "stripping of the earth and its natural resources."

"The loss of jungles and forests means not only the loss of species, which could also be extremely important resources for the future, but also the loss of vital relationships that could end up altering the entire ecosystem," the pope said.

Black market mining, he continued, is an example of an industry that destroys people's lives and the environment and encourages other social evils, like human trafficking, which destroys the dignity of people and of the nation."

"The vital fabric that constitutes the nation is thus being altered. The degradation of the environment, sad to say, cannot be separated from the moral degradation of our communities. We cannot think of these as two separate realities," the pope said.

Pope Francis urged the country's leaders and civil authorities to work toward building security for their people and their land so that Peru may become a "place of hope and opportunity for all, and not just for a few."

"In this way, all Peruvians can feel that this country is theirs, that here they can relate fraternally and equitably with their neighbors, and help others in their need. A land where they can realize their own future," the pope said.

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

At final Mass in Chile, pope says cry of migrants is prayer to God

At final Mass in Chile, pope says cry of migrants is prayer to God

011918 pope mass chileIQUIQUE, Chile — Christians must be aware of the injustices and exploitation suffered by migrants and those seeking a better life for themselves and their families, Pope Francis said.

On the last leg of his trip in Chile, the pope said the cry of the poor "opens our hearts and teaches us to be attentive."

"Let us be attentive 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, who don't know the language or who don't have their papers in order. Let us be attentive to the lack of shelter, land and employment experienced by so many families," he said Jan. 18 at his final Mass at Lobito beach in Iquique.

The pope arrived at the Mass site, a sports field owned by Arturo Prat University of Iquique, shortly after landing at the nearby international airport. Before boarding the popemobile to greet the faithful present, the pope was asked by local journalists about his three-day visit to the country.

"I am happy, very happy with Chile," the pope said. "I am very happy with all of you, with the work you have done. Chileans are very welcoming."

According to the Vatican, an estimated 50,000 people were present at the Mass, cheering as the pope made his way around the field overlooking the crisp, blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.

A vast array of colorful hats and umbrellas were seen across the field as people did their best to shield themselves from the Chilean sun. Behind the pilgrims was one of the many immense sand dunes that characterize the northern city's landscape.

Iquique is one of the major South American cities that has seen a steady increase of migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly from Venezuela and Haiti.

In his homily, the pope praised Iquique as "a land of dreams" that has sheltered "men and women of different peoples and cultures who had to leave everything behind and set out."

Like the Holy Family, who escaped to the Egyptian desert to survive, migrants have also crossed the sand dunes of Iquique, setting out with the hope of a better life but "always with their bags packed, with fear and uncertainty about the future," the pope said.

Recalling the day's Gospel reading from St. John, in which Mary informs Jesus of the lack of wine at the wedding feast of Cana, the pope said that, still today, Mary intercedes on behalf of those who lack joy.

"She is attentive to everything going on around her; like a good mother, she doesn't sit still. She notices, amid the feasting and the shared joy, that something is about to happen that might 'water it down,'" the pope said.

Pope Francis urged Christians to imitate Mary and notice those whose lives "have been watered down, who have lost -- or have been robbed of -- reasons for celebrating."

"Let us not be afraid to raise our voices and say: 'They have no wine,'" the pope said.

After the Mass, the pope boarded his popemobile to greet the crowds gathered in the streets of Iquique. As he continued along the route, a police horse was startled and reared up, causing the policewoman riding it to fall back and nearly hit the popemobile.

The pope was seen telling his driver to stop, and he remained near the injured officer until a medical team came to attend to her.

According to the Vatican press office, the policewoman was "conscious and received some words of consolation from the Holy Father."

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Pope challenges Chilean youth to ask, 'What would Christ do?'

Pope challenges Chilean youth to ask, 'What would Christ do?'

SANTIAGO, Chile — Pope Francis challenged young Chileans, telling them to always ask themselves, "What would Christ do in my place?"

"At school, at university, when outdoors, when at home, among friends, at work, when taunted: 'What would Christ do in my place?'" he told thousands of young people who came from all over Latin America and Chile to a youth rally at Santiago's Maipu shrine.

"When you go dancing, when you are playing or watching sports: 'What would Christ do in my place?' He is the password, the power source that charges our hearts, ignites our faith and makes our eyes sparkle."

Pope Francis told young people they are the protagonists who will change the church, and the young people responded. Throughout the service they frequently shouted, "This is the pope's young people."

He spoke of the inspiration of St. Alberto Hurtado, founder of the Hogar de Cristo movement, which provides vocational training and other services for young people. The saint "had a golden rule, a rule for setting his heart ablaze with the fire that keeps joy alive. For Jesus is that fire; everyone who draws near to it is set ablaze. Hurtado's password was quite simple -- if your phones are turned on, I would like you to key this in. He asks: 'What would Christ do in my place?'"

Several young people were chosen to tell Pope Francis about their dreams and hopes. Ariel Rojas told him, "We recognize in you a way of being, a way of love."

Rojas got a loud cheer when he told Pope Francis, "We want to help you and support you with your faith, and we want you to know that we will help you when you are tired, because of all the many things you have to do."

Many of the pilgrims were wearing purple T-shirts that showed they were affiliated with the Jesuits. One of them, Natalia Tomas, had traveled more than 500 miles from Puerto Montt. She told Catholic News Service she is following Pope Francis' advice to "stir things up and get out and help people."

Many of the young people signed up to be volunteers, like Rodrigo Opazo, 16, from Colina. He told CNS: "I want to help the pope; it makes me happy. And when I am older I can tell my family I helped the pope."

"It's been an incredible experience," said Nicolas Merino, another papal volunteer. "We had to help 40,000 people get into the Mass at O'Higgins Park. ... And today I am a pilgrim here in Maipu, and I am very interested in what he says to the young people."

"I want to take the pope's advice and not just treat this as a one-off event, but a catalyst for going out and inspiring others and breathing new life into the church. That is our responsibility as young people," he told CNS.

The meeting was filled with symbolism because Maipu shrine, formally the Basilica of Our Lady of Carmel, honors Chile's patron saint. There was a huge statue of her on the stage, which the pope blessed at the end of the ceremony.

Pope Francis told the crowd, "If you don't love your country, you don't love God."

Participants responded by shouting "chi chi chi che che che viva Chile," a popular chant often used at soccer matches showing a love for Chile.

The young people presented Pope Francis with a miniature Chilean-blue cross with a red ribbon to symbolize the blood of Christ and an alliance that all of Chile is together. They also presented a white star. Red, white and blue are the colors of the Chilean flag.

Later, the pope met with professors, staff and students at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. He told them they can contribute to fostering peaceful coexistence in the country through education.

"Peaceful coexistence as a nation is possible, not least to the extent that we can generate educational processes that are also transformative, inclusive and meant to favor such coexistence," he said.

He also emphasized the need for the university to "progress as a community," and praised the evangelization efforts of the university's chaplaincy, which "is a sign of a young, lively church that goes forth."

"The missions that take place each year in different parts of the country are an impressive and enriching reality. With these, you are able to broaden your outlook and encounter different situations that, along with regular events, keep you on the move," the pope said.

Experiences like evangelizing, he added, should not remain limited to university life because the "present-day culture demands new forms that are more inclusive of all those who make up social and, hence, educational realities."

This evangelizing can also "overcome every antagonistic and elitist approach to learning," Pope Francis said.

"This prophetic role demanded of us prompts us to seek out ever new spaces for dialogue rather than confrontation, spaces of encounter rather than division, paths of friendly disagreement that allow for respectful differences between persons joined in a sincere effort to advance as a community towards a renewed national coexistence," the pope said.

— Jane Chambers, Catholic News Service

Division, segregation a threat to humanity, pope tells indigenous people

Division, segregation a threat to humanity, pope tells indigenous people

011718 pope chileTEMUCO, Chile — Celebrating Mass in a land steeped in indigenous history and culture, Pope Francis said the greatest threat facing humanity is the stifling of differences driven by the idea that some cultures are better than others.

Greeting members of the Mapuche people and other indigenous peoples living in southern Chile Jan. 17, Pope Francis recognized the suffering and injustice endured by the indigenous population.

"Seen through the eyes of tourists, this land will thrill us as we pass through it, but if we put our ear to the ground, we will hear it sing: 'Arauco has a sorrow that cannot be silenced, the injustices of centuries that everyone sees taking place,'" Pope Francis said, quoting famed Chilean songwriter Violeta Parra.

In his homily at the Mass at Maquehue Airport in Temuco, the pope also acknowledged that the area, while rich in history and beauty, brought memories of "sorrow and pain" and "was the site of grave violations of human rights."

Maquehue Airport, a Chilean air force base, was used as a torture and detention center during the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet from 1973 to 1990.

"We offer this Mass for all those who suffered and died, and for those who daily bear the burden of those many injustices," the pope said. "The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross bears all the sin and pain of our peoples, in order to redeem it."

While supporting the rights of the indigenous peoples to maintain their cultures, Pope Francis insisted that the only way to survive and thrive was to remain united and to shun violence.

"Let us instead seek the path of active nonviolence as a style of politics for peace," he said. "Let us seek, and never tire of seeking, dialogue for the sake of unity. That is why we cry out: 'Lord, make us artisans of your unity.'"

Exercise "the solidarity that makes us say: We need one another and our differences so that this land can remain beautiful!" he told them. "It is the only weapon we have against the 'deforestation' of hope."

According to the Vatican, an estimated 150,000 people attended the Mass. Many of them were singing, cheering, and holding signs written in the native language of the Mapuche people, Mapudungun.

The Mass began with a traditional greeting to the pope delivered by a group of indigenous people.

In the Araucania region of southern Chile, Mapuche communities have been stripped of their land repeatedly -- first by Spanish colonists, then by settlers who moved to the region to farm, and more recently by timber plantations.

Despite the pain and division associated with the territory, Pope Francis called on the people of southern Chile to work toward building unity and resist attempts at uniformity.

"Unity is not an idol or the result of forced integration; it is not a harmony bought at the price of leaving some people on the fringes," the pope said.

Like the intricate designs of the traditional Mapuche clothing that blends different materials and colors, he added, unity is a "reconciled diversity" of all peoples with no notion "that there are higher or lower cultures."

Thousands of people lined the streets of Temuco, welcoming the pope and waving yellow and white flags. However, a small group of protesters were also demonstrating outside the entrance to the airport.

The demonstrators held a large banner protesting against Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, a bishop accused of turning a blind eye to the activity of a notorious priest accused of sexually abusing boys.

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

'No one can replace a mother,' Chilean inmate tells Pope Francis

'No one can replace a mother,' Chilean inmate tells Pope Francis

011618 pope chile momSANTIAGO, Chile — When mothers are in prison, "children are the ones who suffer the most," a female inmate at San Joaquin Women's Prison told Pope Francis Jan. 16.

"Nothing and no one can replace a mother," the inmate, Janeth Zurita, told the pope on behalf of the hundreds of other women in the prison.

Pope Francis has visited other prisons, but this was the first time on his travels as pope that he visited one just for women. He was greeted by women standing with their babies in their arms.

He stopped and spoke to one woman who was seven-and-a-half months pregnant and touched her stomach to bless her unborn baby. The prisoners can have their children with them until they are 2, then they must hand them over to another member of the family to look after or, if no one is available, the children go into the care of the state.

The inmates have been preparing for the papal visit for months. They composed a special song for him and hung brightly colored paper ribbons from the ceiling of the gym where he met them; each ribbon had a quote of inspiring words Pope Francis had spoken at previous prison visits.

The women greeted him with smiles, tears and more babies dressed in their best clothes, who were passed to the pope for hugs, blessings and kisses.

Sister Nelly Leon, a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, has been chaplain at the prison for the last 13 years. She welcomed Pope Francis and told him she believes inmates are the people who are most forgotten by society. Sister Nelly runs a charity called Mujer Levantate (Woman, Get Up), which helps former female prisoners get back on their feet through work and a special shelter.

Pope Francis deviated from his original speech and repeatedly told the women they must demand their right go back into society with dignity and not to forget their hopes and dreams.

"A sentence without a proper future isn't humane," he said. "Instead, it is a torture."

He praised the prison guards for treating the women with dignity and added that dignity, like the flu, was contagious.

He also spoke of the importance of motherhood and the gift of children.

"Many of you are mothers, and you know what it means to bring a new life into the world," he told them. "You were able to take upon yourself a new life and bring it to birth. Motherhood is not, and never will be a problem. It is a gift, and one of the most wonderful gifts you can ever have.

"Today you face a very real challenge: You also have to care for that life. You are asked to care for the future, to make it grow and to help it to develop -- not just for yourselves, but for your children and for society as a whole."

The inmates and Sister Nelly asked the Chilean government to change its system so that children do not have to suffer unnecessarily and can remain with their mothers. Pope Francis acknowledged that suffering. President Michelle Bachelet was at the ceremony and listened with interest, but she will be replaced in March by President-elect Sebastian Pinera.

The importance of forgiveness was another theme of the visit. Zurita asked for forgiveness for her crimes. She is scheduled to be released from jail after serving time for drug trafficking -- the crime for which most of the women are in the prison.

Pope Francis said everyone needs to learn the importance of truly seeking forgiveness.

"We all must ask for forgiveness; me first," he said.

— Jane Chambers, Catholic News Service

Beatitudes are fruits of hope, not cheap talk, pope says in Chile

Beatitudes are fruits of hope, not cheap talk, pope says in Chile

011618 pope chileSANTIAGO, Chile —The beatitudes are not cheap words for those who think they know it all yet do not commit to faith; they are the fruit of a hopeful heart that yearns for peace and happiness, Pope Francis said.

Christ's response to the longings and aspirations of those seeking a life of happiness are not a "product of those prophets of dooms who seek only to spread dismay" or "mirages that promise happiness with a single 'click,' in the blink of any eye," the pope said Jan. 16, celebrating his first public Mass in Chile.

"The beatitudes are born of the compassionate heart of Jesus, which encounters the hearts of men and women seeking and yearning for a life of happiness," he said.

A sea of yellow and white flags waved throughout O'Higgins Park as Pope Francis arrived in his popemobile, greeting the estimated 400,000 people. By the middle of the Mass, it was 82 degrees. Pilgrims shielded themselves from the sun with ball caps and sun hats.

Despite several acts of vandalism and protests against the pope's visit that made headlines in the Chilean capital, there was an atmosphere of joy and hope as crowds sang a traditional Latin American hymn welcoming the pope.

"Together like brothers, members of one church, let us go walking toward the Lord's encounter," the faithful sang.

The offertory gifts included a statue of a Moai from Easter Island, sculpted by artist Pau Hereveri Tepano. Some of those present at the Mass traveled the nearly 2,300 miles from Easter Island.

The gifts also included an earthenware piece depicting the Quasimodo, a traditional Chilean procession during Holy Week, when men and women in traditional dress go, on horseback, to give Communion to the sick and elderly who cannot make it to church. A green truck represented the truck that St. Alberto Hurtado used to drive around the community to help the poor.

Reflecting on the Gospel reading from St. Matthew, Pope Francis said Jesus' proclamation of the beatitudes is the answer to those who seek an encounter with him.

Jesus' first act before preaching, the pope said, was to "look out and see the faces of his people."

"Those faces awaken God's visceral love. Jesus' heart was not moved by ideas or concepts but by faces, persons. By life calling out for the life that the Father wants to give us," he said.

The people of Chile, he added, know about rebuilding. They continue to "get up again after so many falls."

"This is the heart to which Jesus speaks; that is the heart for which the beatitudes are meant," the pope said.

By proclaiming the poor, those who mourn and the afflicted as blessed, Jesus "shakes us out of that negativity" and "the sense of resignation that tends to isolate us from others."

Christians, the pope said, are also called to be peacemakers and work for reconciliation by "going out of our way to meet someone having a difficult time, someone who has not been treated as a person, as a worthy son or daughter of this land."

"This is the only way we must forge a future of peace, to weave a fabric that will not unravel," Pope Francis said.

Among the bishops concelebrating the Mass was Bishop Juan Barros, whose appointment as bishop of the Diocese of Osorno sparked several protests ahead of the pope's visit. Bishop Barros' former mentor, Father Fernando Karadima, was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

Santiago's metro opened early for pilgrims to attend the Mass.

Veronica Ruiz, an Argentine living in Chile, was on a packed train with her brother, daughter and son-in-law. She said she also planned to see Pope Francis in Peru during his Jan. 18-21 visit. They were prepared for a long wait with food, water and sunscreen.

"We have been Catholics all our lives, and to see the pope fills us with energy. We got up at 3 a.m. to be here, and we are so excited that we don't know if we slept or not; but, never mind, we are here now and very happy to be there."

At O'Higgins Park, people from all over Chile arrived by bus hours before the Mass. Police on horseback kept pilgrims orderly. Many pilgrims lined up to buy souvenirs -- flags, bags, key rings and photos featuring Pope Francis.

One Chilean woman, who identified herself only as Claudia, was there with her husband and four children, ages 13, 8, 3 and 1.

"Even though some of my children are very little, we think it is important they see this. We want our faith to go out on to the streets and not just be in the church," she said. "Huge Masses like this make us feel that God is alive and present in our lives."

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Pope asks forgiveness from victims of clergy sex abuse in Chile

Pope asks forgiveness from victims of clergy sex abuse in Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile — Pope Francis, in his first formal speech in Chile, asked forgiveness from those who were sexually abused by priests.

Addressing government authorities and members of the country's diplomatic corps Jan. 16, the pope 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, for it is right to ask for forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensure that such things do not happen again," he said.

Preparations for Pope Francis' visit to Chile Jan. 15-18 were overshadowed by continuing controversy over the pope's decision in 2015 to give a diocese to a bishop accused of turning a blind eye to the abuse perpetrated by a notorious priest.

The pope's appointment of Bishop Juan Barros as head of the Diocese of Osorno sparked several protests -- most notably at the bishop's installation Mass -- due to the bishop's connection to Father Fernando Karadima, his former mentor. Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

The protests against the pope's appointment of Bishop Barros gained steam when a video of Pope Francis defending the appointment was published in September 2015 by the Chilean news channel, Ahora Noticias. Filmed during a general audience a few months earlier, the video showed the pope telling a group of Chilean pilgrims that Catholics protesting the appointment were "judging a bishop without any proof."

"Think with your head; don't let yourself be led by all the lefties who are the ones that started all of this," the pope said. "Yes, Osorno is suffering but for being foolish because it doesn't open its heart to what God says and allows itself to be led by all this silliness that all those people say."

Survivors of abuse and their supporters planned a conference and protests around the pope's arrival.

But Pope Francis made his way to La Moneda, the presidential palace, and was welcomed by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. Thousands were gathered in the square outside the palace, chanting "Francisco, amigo, Chile esta contigo" ("Francis, friend, Chile is with you").

Despite the jovial atmosphere at outside La Moneda, there were serious signs of protest in Santiago.

Chilean media reported vandalism at Divine Providence Parish, not far from O'Higgins Park, where the pope was to celebrate Mass later in the morning. Vandals spray painted the words "complice" ("accomplice") and "papa arde" ("burn, pope") on the facade of the church below a banner welcoming Pope Francis.

Three days earlier, several Chilean churches were firebombed, and police found other, unexploded devices at two other churches in Santiago. Some of the pamphlets included the phrase, "The next bombs will be in your cassock" and spoke of the cause of the Mapuche indigenous group.

"How are you? Where you able to rest?" Bachelet asked the pope when he arrived at the palace. "Perfectly," he responded. The two leaders stood as the national anthems of Chile and Vatican City State were played before entering the courtyard of the palace where about 700 members of the country's government authorities and of the diplomatic corps welcomed the pope with a standing ovation.

In his speech to the country's political leaders, Pope Francis emphasized the need for officials to listen to the people and to value their experiences, cultures, sufferings and hopes.

Included in the pope's list were "children who look out on the world with eyes full of amazement and innocence and expect from us concrete answers for a dignified future."

At that point he told the officials, "I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the church."

The pope's acknowledgment of the crimes of sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy was met with a loud applause from the government authorities present.

Looking at the country's social and political life, Pope Francis congratulated the nation for its steady growth in democracy since 1990 when the rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet ended.

The recent presidential elections in November, he said, "were a demonstration of the solidity and civic maturity that you have achieved."

"That was a particularly important moment, for it shaped your destiny as a people founded on freedom and law, one that has faced moments of turmoil, at times painful, yet succeeded in surmounting them. In this way, you have been able to consolidate and confirm the dream of your founding fathers," the pope said.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet is scheduled to hand the office over to President-elect Sebastian Pinera in March.

Chile's future, Pope Francis said, depends on the ability of its people and leaders to listen to those in need and "replace narrow ideologies with a healthy concern for the common good."

The unemployed, native peoples, migrants, the elderly, young people and children all deserve to be listened to while also giving "preferential attention to our common home."

The wisdom of the country's indigenous population, he added, can help Chilean society "transcend a merely consumerist view of life and to adopt a sage attitude to the future."

"The wisdom of the native peoples can contribute greatly to this," Pope Francis said. "From them we can learn that a people that turns its back on the land, and everything and everyone on it, will never experience real development."

 — Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Pope meets with clergy sex abuse victims in Chile

Pope meets with clergy sex abuse victims in Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile — Pope Francis met in private Jan. 16 with survivors of sexual abuse by Chilean clergy, a Vatican spokesman said.

Greg Burke, the spokesman, said the pope met with "a small group of victims of sexual abuse by priests" at the apostolic nunciature in Santiago, Chile.

"The meeting took place in a strictly private way, and no one else was present: only the pope and the victims," Burke told journalists that evening.

The private setting, he added, allowed the group to speak freely with the pope "and recount their sufferings.

Pope Francis "listened, prayed and cried with them," Burke said.

Also present at the press conference was Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, secretary-general of the Chilean bishops' conference.

Bishop Ramos addressed criticism regarding the presence of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno at several papal events, including the pope's meetings with the country's clergy as well as the bishops of Chile.

Bishop Barros' appointment as bishop by the pope in 2015 drew outrage and protests due to his connection to Father Fernando Karadima, his former mentor. Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

"Bishop Barros is bishop of Osorno and was named by the pope. All bishops have the right and responsibility to participate at the events. That was the only reason why" he was present, Bishop Ramos said.

Arriving in Iquique Jan. 18 at the site of his final Mass in Chile, Pope Francis was asked by local journalists about his support for Bishop Barros.

The pope reiterated that he has yet to see any evidence that Bishop Barros knew or witnessed the abuses committed by his former mentor.

"The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak. There is not one piece of evidence against him. It is calumny. Is that clear?" the pope told the journalists.

Earlier Jan. 16, the pope asked forgiveness from the victims of sexual abuse during an address to government authorities and members of Chile's diplomatic corps, expressing his "pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the church."

Burke said it was significant the pope addressed the issue of clergy sex abuse during his meeting with government authorities "because normally he speaks about it when meeting with bishops or priests."

"The fact that he spoke there means that it is an evil not only for the church but for society," Burke said.

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Pope Francis flies over Argentina, sparking questions of when he'll visit

Pope Francis flies over Argentina, sparking questions of when he'll visit

MEXICO CITY —The papal flight to Chile lasted about 15 hours and flew over the Pope Francis' native Argentina, where many in the church, politics and chattering classes wondered aloud: When will he arrive here?

After Argentine Cardinal Jose Mario Bergoglio was elected pope in March 2013, many Argentines expected he would put his home country on the top of his list of countries to visit. Nearly five years later, Pope Francis has traveled four times to Latin America, but not Argentina.

As he flew over Argentine airspace Jan. 15, he sent a brief message to Argentine President Mauricio Macri, blessing the people and reminding them: "Do not forget to pray for me."

The pope has never announced any firm plans to visit, though church observers voice opinions that he would prefer to avoid the polarization of Argentine politics, especially because, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he often criticized corruption and ministered to the marginalized.

Politicians on all sides have tried to claim the pope as own of their own -- a fellow traveler, who would embrace their cause if he were in the country. Some old friends are sometimes seen as informal spokesmen for the pope.

"These so-called 'friends of the pope' do not help because they're part of the 'grieta'" -- or crack, as Argentines call their political polarization -- "and media, interestingly, present them as spokesmen of the Holy Father," said Tito Garabal, a Catholic journalist in Buenos Aires, who has known Pope Francis for more than 20 years.

"They're repeating falsehoods that many people believe are true, and then it has to be said that the pope never said such things," he added.

The Argentine bishops' conference issued a statement, asking people to stop talking on behalf the pope, to not use him for political purposes and to avoid "tendentious and partial interpretations" of his speeches, which have "only widened the divisions between Argentines."

"This constant association" -- of the pope with others in Argentina -- "has generated confusion and justified regrettable distortions of his figure and his words," the statement said.

"The immense majority of Argentines love Pope Francis. They do not confuse him with those who try to use him, pretend to represent him or attribute imaginary positions according to their own sectoral interests. Common people want to hear the Holy Father's teachings and recognize it by his clear and plain language," the statement continued.

Pope Francis visits Chile and Peru from Jan. 15–21, his fourth trip to South America. Observers are split on whether he will ever visit Argentina.

"I have the impression that the Argentine bishops don't know what to say," said Jose Maria Poirier, editor of the Catholic magazine Criterio in Buenos Aires.

"On one hand, they want to show total unity with the pope, but, on the other, many of them don't understand," Poirier said, adding that perceptions of the pope intervening in domestic politics "causes discomfort."

Garabal said the pope had other more urgent issues than returning to Argentina for a homecoming.

"There are more urgent matters in the world than those in Argentina, which are created by our own history of division," said Garabal, who visited Pope Francis in 2016. "I know the Holy Father wishes to come here, but there isn't much time, and the world and ecclesiastical emergencies are many."

— David Agren, Catholic News Service

Pope begins seven-day pilgrimage to Chile, Peru

Pope begins seven-day pilgrimage to Chile, Peru

SANTIAGO, Chile — Pope Francis arrived in Santiago Jan. 15, the first stop on a seven-day, six-city visit to Peru and Chile, where he will take his message of hope to people on the margins of society.

Arriving in Santiago after more than 15 hours in the air, Pope Francis was greeted by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and a young Chilean girl. He told the crowd he was happy to be in Chile, and he blessed the workers at the airport before being transported to the papal nunciature, where he will stay the three nights he is in Chile.

On Jan. 17, the pope will travel to Temuco and meet with residents of the Mapuche indigenous community. Members of the Mapuche have called for the government to return lands confiscated prior to the country's return to democracy in the late 1980s.

"Chile won't be too difficult for me because I studied there for a year and I have many friends there and I know it well, or rather, well enough. Peru, however, I know less. I have gone maybe two, three times for conferences and meetings," the pope told journalists aboard the papal flight.

There was no mention of increased security for the Chilean visit. Three days earlier, several Chilean churches were firebombed, and police found other, unexploded devices at two other churches in Santiago. Some of the pamphlets included the phrase, "The next bombs will be in your cassock" and spoke of the Mapuche cause.

Before flying to Peru Jan. 18, Pope Francis will visit Iquique, where he will celebrate Mass on Lobito beach.

In Peru Jan. 18-21, will visit Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.

He will also meet with the indigenous people of the Amazon during his visit to Puerto Maldonado. The Amazon rainforest includes territory belonging to nine countries in South America and has experienced significant deforestation, negatively impacting the indigenous populations in the area and leading to a loss of biodiversity.

In both countries, he will work to restore trust and encourage healing after scandals left many wounded and angry at the Catholic Church.

Shortly after take-off from Rome, Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, distributed a photo card the pope wished to share with journalists aboard his flight from Rome.

The photo depicted a young Japanese boy shortly after the bombing in Nagasaki, waiting in line, carrying his dead baby brother on his back to the crematorium. On the back of the card, the words "The fruit of war" were written along with Pope Francis' signature.

Before greeting each of the 70 journalists, the pope said that he found the photo "by chance" and "was very moved when I saw this."

"I could only write 'the fruit of war.' I wanted to print it and give it to you because such an image is more moving than a thousand words," he said.

Responding to a journalist's question about nuclear war, Pope Francis said: "I think we are at the very limit. I am really afraid of this. One accident is enough to precipitate things."

The Peru-Chile trip is Pope Francis' fourth to South America. In July 2013, he visited Brazil for World Youth Day. In July 2015, he traveled to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. His trip to Colombia in September was his third visit to the continent as pope.

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service