>>South America, the known terrain of Pope Francis
January 14, 2018
By Antonio Frieser R.
[Note: Includes useful map of visits by Pope Francis to Latin American countries.]
Por cuarta vez, el Pontífice llega al subcontinente, donde ha asumido un rol pacificador de los conflictos de una historia que conoce bien.
Hoy, cuando el Papa Francisco comience su recorrido por Chile, nuestro país se transformará en el sexto destino que el Pontífice visita en Sudamérica desde que asumió el mando de la Iglesia Católica, en marzo de 2013.
Voy “como peregrino de la alegría”, “conozco la historia de sus países, fraguada con tesón, entrega”, dijo Francisco en un mensaje de video emitido el pasado martes en Chile y Perú, países que forman parte de su nuevo viaje.
[Google Translation: For the fourth time, the Pontiff reaches the subcontinent, where he has assumed a pacifying role in the conflicts of a history he knows well.
Today, when Pope Francis begins his tour of Chile, our country will become the sixth destination that the Pontiff has visited in South America since he assumed command of the Catholic Church in March 2013.
I go “as a pilgrim of joy”, “I know the history of their countries, set with determination, dedication,” Francisco said in a video message broadcast last Tuesday in Chile and Peru, countries that are part of his new trip.
Less than two months after serving five years at the head of the Vatican and 81 years, the Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio has stamped a stamp of austerity and closeness to the poorest throughout his 21 trips outside Italy, where he has visited 31 countries on four different continents.
And from that long list, the first country visited by the Pontiff was Brazil, where there are the largest number of Catholics in the world. According to the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 2015, published by the Vatican, there are 1,285 million Catholics on the planet, of which 49% are in South America, and 172.2 million of them are Brazilian.
During his six-day visit, the Pope participated in the XXVIII edition of the World Youth Day that was held in Rio de Janeiro. And among his challenges was the challenge of revitalizing Catholicism and showing the stamp of his pontificate.
He also visited the Varguinha favela, where months before the Rio police had inaugurated a Pacifying Police Unit (UPP), to disrupt organized crime and drug trafficking in those sectors of the city.
On that occasion, Francisco said: “I appeal to all those who have more resources, public authorities and all people of good will committed to social justice: do not get tired of working for a more just and more supportive world.” In addition, the Pontiff urged the Latin American bishops to “love poverty” and not behave as “princes”, in what was interpreted as a clear allusion of the imprint he intended to impose on the Catholic Church.
In July 2015, Bergoglio returned to Latin America, this time responding to an invitation from the then presidents of Ecuador, Rafael Correa; Bolivia, Evo Morales; and Paraguay, Horacio Cartes.
At that time, the spokesman of the Vatican, Federico Lombardi, explained the election of those countries saying that it was considered “the variety and wealth of the different ethnic groups and populations of those countries: the indigenous groups, the mestizo reality and the local languages, like Quechua, Aymara, Guarani. ”
True to his seal, “the Pope wanted to go to the least important and important countries. That was his first criterion, “concluded Lombardi.
With visits to Quito and Guayaquil, the Pope faced political tensions in favor and against the Correa government. In his meeting with the president, Francisco said in his speech that “the Ecuadorian people have stood up with dignity.” Correa attributed the phrase to the changes that the country was experiencing and what he called “citizen revolution”, but Francisco later clarified that the phrase had been instrumentalized and that he had referred to the border conflict between Ecuador and Peru and the ability of Ecuadorians to get up and take “more and more awareness of their dignity.”
In Bolivia, the Pope’s visit was marked by the maritime theme. Although in his first years of government he had pointed to the Catholic Church as part of his opponents, President Evo Morales greeted the Pontiff saying: “Welcome to a land that has been mutilated access to the sea through an invasion.” Francisco responded by saying later: “I’m thinking about the sea. Dialogue. Dialogue is indispensable “to avoid conflicts with sister countries,” referring to the dispute with Chile.
In Paraguay, Francisco called on young people to “make a mess and organize it well”, in reference to an active participation in the country’s social changes.
The Pontiff’s last stop on his home continent was Colombia, where his message was aimed primarily at the reconciliation of the Colombian people in the framework of the 2016 peace agreement, which ended more than half a century of hostilities. “May this effort make us flee from any temptation to revenge and seek only particular and short-term interests.” He added that we must “heal wounds and build bridges”.]
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