Pope will highlight indigenous issues and the Amazon during his trip to South America

Los Angeles Times

January 15, 2018

By Patrick J. McDonnell, Tracy Wilkinson, and Chris Kraul

Santiago – Pope Francis on Monday begins a weeklong visit to Chile and Peru that is expected to highlight the plight of the continent’s indigenous peoples, the decimation of the Amazon rainforests and the struggles of immigrants and the poor.

The trip will mark the Argentine pope’s fourth visit to South America, following his trip to Colombia in September.

A series of gasoline firebomb attacks on Roman Catholic churches in Chile before the pope’s arrival has dramatized tensions in the church here, which has been riven by cases of clergy sexual abuse.

No one was injured in the attacks overnight Friday on three churches in the capital, and damage was minimal from the crude strikes with gasoline-filled bottles. But following the incidents, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet called on Chileans to receive the pope in a “climate of respect.”

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On Wednesday, the pontiff is slated to travel to the central city of Temuco to celebrate Mass and meet with Mapuche representatives. Several Mapuche leaders condemned the firebombings and rejected violence as a means of social change, a sentiment echoed by other Chilean officials.

“There is no place for violence in a democracy,” said Claudio Orrego, regional governor of the Santiago area.

Also in Chile, victims of clergy sexual abuse have been pushing for a meeting with the pope during his visit here, though no such meeting had been formally scheduled.

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