Pope draws crowd to Chile Mass, also protests

Angelica Greene
January 18, 2018

He and others inside the Vatican speak openly of a Chilean church "in crisis" as a result, a remarkable admission of the scandal's toll on a church that wielded such political clout that it helped stave off laws legalising divorce and abortion until recently. "Pain too for the suffering of ecclesial communities, and pain for you brothers and sisters, who after working so hard, have seen the harm that has led to suspicion and questioning; in some or many of you this has been a source of doubt, fear or lack of confidence".

A "wounded" church, Francis suggested, could recover and be in a better position to provide guidance in a turbulent world.

"Seen through the eyes of tourists, this land will thrill us as we pass through it, but if we put our ear to the ground, we will hear it sing: 'Arauco has a sorrow that can not be silenced, the injustices of centuries that everyone sees taking place, '" Pope Francis said, quoting famed Chilean songwriter Violeta Parra.

Three churches have been firebombed in Chile on the first full day of Pope Francis' visit to the Andean nation.

Anne Barrett Doyle of the online abuse database, BishopAccountability.org, praised Francis for opening his visit with the apology, but said Chileans expect him to take action against complicit church leaders.

But he said he also understood the pain of priests and nuns who had nothing to do with abuse and had been unfairly tainted, including being "insulted in the metro or walking on the street". But it's not yet clear if he'll meet with any sexual assault survivors.

Francis in particular has been heavily criticized for his 2015 appointment of a bishop, Juan Barros Madrid, to head the diocese of Osorno in southern Chile. Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys. Barros has denied any knowledge of the incidents. Upon exciting, Barros told local media: "Many lies have been made about me". "I never witnessed that".

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Pope Francis wept as he met with victims of child molestation and abuse by priests in Chile on Tuesday. Victims have sought a meeting with him though none has yet been arranged.

In 1987, John Paul II gave a pointed nod to Mapuches that surely prompted cringes within Pinochet's government, which was unsympathetic toward indigenous groups and cracked down on any form of dissent. Chile has since returned to democracy and boasts one of the continent's most robust economies, though deep social divisions remain. Francis directly addressed the controversy in a speech to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and other officials on Tuesday, as Emily Green reports for NPR.

Last week alone, almost nine churches were torched with gas-soaked cloths marking protests against the papal visit.

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.

A church in the capital was attacked during the night, causing minor damage.

In an eleventh-hour schedule shift, Francis stopped Monday evening in Santiago at the tomb of a Chilean prelate who was known as the "bishop of the poor" and who aided those seeking loved ones detained during Chile's former military dictatorship. Often pamphlets celebrating the Mapuche cause are found at the scene.

Still, even the pope's closest colleagues have been marred by sex abuse scandals.

Other reports by GizPress

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