“The best meetings are the very private ones”

The situation of indigenous peoples threatened by land grabs and international corporations is the focus of Pope Francis' trip to Chile and Peru. The head of the church will meet with victims of the Pinochet dictatorship.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke, in presenting the program Thursday, singled out the planned meetings with representatives of the peoples in question in the Andes and Amazon region. Francis' visit to Puerto Maldonado in the Peruvian rainforest marks the start of an international synod of bishops for Amazonia. The meeting itself will take place in the fall of 2019 in the Vatican.

Meeting with victims of the Pinochet dictatorship

In Chile, the pope will also speak with two victims of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship. During the tyranny from 1973 to 1990, tens of thousands suffered torture, more than 3.000 were murdered or disappeared. The current pope spent a year and a half as a student in Chile prior to the dictatorship.

Meetings with victims of Alberto Fujimori's repressive government in Peru or with victims of sexual abuse by clerics in Chile are not on the agenda, Burke said. However, the pope reserves the freedom to make additions. "The best meetings are the very private ones," Burke said.

"This will be an interesting telegram"

The Vatican spokesman would not answer the question of why Francis has not yet visited his native Argentina in almost five years in office. The outbound flight to Chile, however, will pass through Argentina. When crossing a national airspace, the pope usually sends a greeting to the respective head of state. "It will be an interesting telegram," Burke said.

On his second day of visit to Chile on Wednesday, Francis travels to Temuco, center of the Mapuche people. Mass in Temuco, he said, will be on the theme of development; afterward, the pope plans to exchange ideas with eight Mapuche people over lunch. In Peru, Francis meets with representatives of Amazonian peoples in Puerto Maldonado. The meeting will be marked by traditional singing and dancing, according to the Vatican.

Delivery of the environmental encyclical "Laudato si

During the event, Francis plans to deliver his environmental encyclical "Laudato si" in local languages to representatives of the Amazon bishoprics. Also attending, according to the Vatican spokesman, are the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, and Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes.

Further accents of the 22. The pope's foreign trip includes a visit to Trujillo, northern Peru, to coastal residents hit by flooding caused by the El Nino climate phenomenon, as well as meetings with 600 women prisoners in the Chilean capital of Santiago and with children at a home for underage victims of violence, abuse and exploitation from mining in Puerto Maldonado.

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