January 22, 2018
By Christine Armario
Pope Francis ventured into the Amazon to demand rights for indigenous groups, decried the scourge of corruption afflicting the region’s politics and denounced a culture of “machismo” in which violence against women is too often tolerated.
Yet his latest visit to South America is likely to be remembered most for 27 dismissive words that sparked outrage among Chileans already angry over a notorious clerical abuse scandal and haunted the rest of his trip.
“That is the enigma of Pope Francis,” Anne Barrett Doyle of the online abuse database BishopAccountability.org said Sunday. “He is so bold and compassionate on many issues but he is an old school defensive bishop when it comes to the sex abuse crisis.”
Even before Francis landed in Chile for the first leg of his two-country trip, the pontiff’s visit seemed ripe for contention. Vandals fire-bombed three churches in the capital of Santiago, warning in a leaflet that “the next bombs will be in your cassock,” and an angry group protesting the high cost of hosting him briefly occupied the Nunciature where he would sleep.
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