World Bulletin / News Desk
He later held a meeting with Peruvian clergymen before finally auspicating a final mass in Las Palmas Air Force Base.
On January 15, Jorge Mario Bergoglio arrived in Chile in the midst of a tense atmosphere due to the burning of various churches and the takeover of the Apostolic Nunciature by the National Association of Mortage Debtors, who protested the staggering cost of the pope´s visit.
As a way to calm the rising tensions and welcome the pope without any major incidents, outgoing Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, asked for calm from Bergoglio´s detractors.
The protests against the head of the Catholic Church were characterized more by political undertones rather than economic ones.
During the second day of his visit, Pope Francis had lunch with eight representatives of the various Mapuche communities (7% of the country´s population), as a way to calm the anger of the marginalized ethnic group, which called for violent protests upon his arrival.
During the lunch meeting, the Mapuche representatives asked Francis to recognize the “Mapuche genocide”, and also asked him to speak to government representatives as a way to obtain reparations for the numerous deaths of their members through history.
Another one of the big challenges that Francis faced in the southern country was the low rate of credibility engulfing the Catholic Church due to the accusations of pedophilia. Since Augusto Pinochet´s dictatorship (1973-1990), sexual abuse scandals against members of the clergy have tarnished the image of the church in Chile.
During the last two decades, four bishops, 66 clergymen and one deacon have been convicted of sexual abuse.
In the middle of this crisis, Fernando Karadima, known as “the lord of hell” came to light, he is considered the most harmful religious sexual offender in Chile.
The pope came to the defense of Juan Barros, accused of covering up the sexual abuse allegations against Karadima. The pontiff said “the day someone brings forth proofs against Juan Barros I will speak. There is not one proof against him, it´s all a smear campaign ¿is it clear?”
The head of the commission that investigates pedophilia in the Vatican, Sean O´Malley, said that the pope´s words were “a great pain for survivors of sexual abuse”, and added that the church´s failings regarding pedophilia have led to the loss of trust in the church around the world.