JANUARY 14, 2018 – Pope Francis’s first trip of 2018 will begin on Monday as the pontiff arrives in Santiago, Chile at the start of a weeklong trip to Chile and Peru. The pope’s January 15-21 visit will have him face challenges within the Chilean and Peruvian churches and issues of domestic policy in both countries. He will meet with the presidents of both nations, speak with the nations’ bishops, and meet with other groups of clergy and laity.
Local observers believe that the trip will confront a series of cases of clergy sex abuse in Chile. Complicating the issue is Francis’s 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid of Osorno, Chile. Bishop Barros has been accused of covering up abuse in the 1980s/1990s.
The pope will also meet with two victims of Chile’s former dictatorship during his visit there.
Francis will leave Chile on January 18 for Peru. On Wednesday, January 10, Francis appointed a Colombian bishop to oversee Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a controversial Catholic society of apostolic life based in Peru. In May 2016, the Pope named then Archbishop Joseph Tobin as the pontifical delegate charged with overseeing the community’s investigation and reform following reports of sexual and psychological abuse. The decision to appoint Colombian Bishop Noel Antonio Londoño Buitrago C.Ss.R. as the group’s papal commissioner this week was no doubt related to the pope’s upcoming trip to Peru.
It is expected that Francis will raise issues of inequality during both visits, with perhaps a focus on corruption in Peru. Additionally, the pontiff is set to meet with members of Chile’s Mapuche native community on January 17. Relations between the community and the Chilean government have been tense for decades, with occasional outbursts of violence, and a recently proposed program for reparations/representation has been met with division within Chile.
This summary utilizes several articles:
For the National Catholic Reporter‘s article on the pope’s need to restore trust in the Chileans and Peruvian churches, click here.
For Crux‘s article on the papal meeting with victims of Chile’s dictatorship, click here.
For the Catholic News Agency’s report on the appointment of an overseer for Sodalitium during its ongoing crisis, click here.
For information on the pope’s meeting with indigenous peoples via Vatican News, click here.
For Pope Francis’s schedule during the trip via Crux, click here.