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Pope begins visit to Chile and Peru

SANTIAGO (Agencies):  On his fourth trip to South America, Pope Francis touched down in Santiago, Chile, on January 15, the first stop on a seven-day, six-city visit to Chile and Peru, where he will take his message of hope to people on the margins of society, CNS reported.
Pope Francis was greeted by outgoing 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 while he is in the country.
Speaking to government authorities and members of Chile’s diplomatic corps at La Moneda Palace, the presidential residence, Pope Francis commended the growth of democracy in the country Vatican News reported. 
He urged them to make the country a “true place of encounter for all” and “to make it a place where everyone, without exception, feels called to join in building a house, a family and a nation.” 
The pope also called for the protection of ethnic, cultural and historical diversity “from all partisan spirit or attempts at domination” and called for a healthy concern for the common good “to replace narrow ideologies.” 
He called on Chile’s leaders to heed the voices of its oft-forgotten indigenous people, as well as the young and the elderly and migrants in order to build a better future. 
“We cannot abandon them,” Vatican News reported him as saying.
Addressing the scandal of sexual abuse by clergy, Pope Francis expressed “pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the Church.”
He said, “It is right to ask for forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensuring that such things do not happen again.”
Later that day, a small group of survivors of sexual abuse met with privately with the pope at the apostolic nunciature, CNS reported on January 16.
Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office told journalists, “The meeting took place in a strictly private way and no one else was present, only the pope and the victims.” 
He added that the private setting  allowed the group to speak freely with the pope “and recount their sufferings.”
Pope Francis “listened, prayed and cried with them,” Burke said.
The pope will travel to Temuco to meet with the Mapuche indigenous community on January 17. The Mapuche have called for the government to return lands confiscated prior to the country’s return to democracy in the late 1980s. 
Pope Francis will visit Iquique, where he will celebrate Mass on Lobito beach before flying to Peru on January 18.
While in Peru, the pope is scheduled to visit Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.
He will also meet with the indigenous people of the Amazon during his visit to Puerto Maldonado. 
The Amazonian 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.
As the pope flew over Argentinian airspace on January 15, he sent a brief message to the country’s president, Mauricio Macri, blessing the people and reminding them: “Do not forget to pray for me.”
Pope Francis has yet to announce any firm plans to visit his country, though Church observers say that he would prefer to avoid the polarisation of Argentine politics, especially because, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he often criticised corruption and ministered to the marginalised.

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