Call for unity and solidarity

Call for unity and solidarity

Before Pope Francis left for Peru, he warned against exploitation and exclusion of migrants at a Mass in Chile. "Let us be attentive to all situations of injustice and the new forms of exploitation," he called on Chileans.

On the last day of his visit to Chile, Pope Francis once again called for unity in the country. In addition, in a sermon near the northern Chilean city of Iquique on Thursday, he called for hospitality toward migrants. He also called for more attention in the face of exploitation, insecure jobs or lack of housing. Christians should "not be afraid to pitch in" so that solidarity and justice benefit all.

Fewer worshipers than expected

About 50 people came to the service on the beach area "Playa Lobito".000 participants, significantly fewer than expected. At the conclusion of the service, Pope Francis bid farewell to the Chileans. At a subsequent lunch, Francis wanted at the hour still two victims of the military dictatorship (1973-1990) under Augusto Pinochet. In the afternoon (local time) he flies on to Peru. In the capital, Lima, he is expected to be present for 23.20 o'clock German time expected.

On the plane from Santiago to Iquique, the pope himself presided over a lightning wedding ceremony: two crew members took the opportunity to catch up on their church weddings. Paula Podest (39) and Carlos Ciuffardi (41) from Chile said "I do" once again before Francis on Thursday, after eight years of civil marriage. The two already have two children.

Papal wedding above the clouds

It was a suggestion by the pope when the crew introduced themselves to him during the flight. When asked if the two were married, Ciuffardi told them that their church wedding, planned in 2010, had to be cancelled because their church had been destroyed by an earthquake. In response, Francis asked, according to Ciuffardi, "Do you want to marry? Let's do this then."The necessary evidence for the civil marriage was in place; a traveling cardinal ied the document of the ecclesiastical marriage. The best man was the papal travel marshal Rueda Beltz. According to Vatican spokesman Greg Burke, it is the first time a marriage ceremony has taken place under such circumstances.

Chileans' trust in the Catholic Church has been shaken, reaching a low of about 36 percent in all of Latin America. Background is numerous cases of abuse by Catholic priests. Social organizations and victims' associations denounced the years of silence of the Catholic Church at protests.

Pope so far backs Bishop Barros

Meanwhile, Pope Francis came to the defense of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros, who has come under attack over an abuse scandal. There is "not a single piece of evidence" against him, Francis said Thursday on his final day of visits to Chile. "Everything is slander. Is that clear?", said the Pope. "The day they present me with evidence against Bishop Barros, I will speak," Francis said in response to a question from a local reporter. Barros accused of knowing about sexual misdeeds of priest Fernando Karadima. There is no evidence of this so far.

Karadima, now 87, once one of Chile's most prominent clergymen, was convicted of abuse in 2011. Barros was among his spiritual circle of disciples. Pope Francis appointed Barros in early 2015 from military bishop to head pastor of the small Osorno diocese in southern Chile. The personnel decision also drew criticism from Francis himself. The debate over Barros and his appearances at events with Francis accompanied the pope's stay in Chile.

Meeting with Mapuche

One of the most prominent spokesmen for Chile's Mapuche minority, Aucan Huilcaman, expressed disappointment with the pope's speech the previous day in Temuco. "The talk was rather tepid, ambiguous and inaccurate," Huilcaman told the Argentine newspaper La Nacion (Thursday).

Francis, he said, had met only with Mapuche in Temuco, who were "products of domination and colonialism". Above all, he said, the pope had failed to speak about the Mapuche's right to their land. In it, however, lie the causes of the conflict with companies and settlers. Francis had called on Wednesday in Temuco the peoples of Chile to unity and solidarity and condemned any violence in the struggle for recognition.

Little enthusiasm from the Chileans

After meeting with victims of the military dictatorship, he was scheduled to travel on to Peru late this afternoon (local time). The visit to Chile was a difficult mission for the pope. His three-day stay was overshadowed by numerous arson attacks and protests. Chileans had shown little enthusiasm for the pope, says a report in the newspaper "La Tercera". Both services in Temuco and Iquique attracted far fewer worshippers than expected.

In Peru, Francis can expect a more warm welcome. The pope was expected to arrive in the capital Lima on Thursday evening. But the official program does not begin until Friday. After meeting with indigenous people from the Amazon, Francis will meet Friday evening for talks with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. On Saturday and Sunday, the Catholic Church leader will celebrate two masses in Trujillo and Lima.

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