Why Pope Francis’s trip to Chile poses a challenge


January 16, 2018

By Eva Ontiveros

When the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that Pope Francis’s trip to Chile would not be an easy one, it was no exaggeration.

In the pontiff’s 22nd overseas visit, he will meet an unprecedented degree of hostility on his native continent.

When asked to evaluate Pope Francis on a scale of 0 to 10, Chileans gave him a score of 5.3, the lowest ranking for any Pope.

Trust in the Catholic Church as an institution fared even worse, polling at just 36% – the lowest in Latin America.

With such a low rating, it is not surprising that before boarding his plane from Rome, Pope Francis asked his congregation to pray for him.

Chile is a land of contrasts. It is estimated that more than 60% of the population identifies itself as Christian, and 45% belongs to the Catholic Church. But it is also the second most secular country in Latin America.

Some 38% of Chileans regard themselves as agnostic, atheist or non-religious.

So what are the three main challenges the Pope will face on his Chilean trip?

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