Pope visit: Chileans divided between parishioners and activists

In the middle of Catholic Church controversy because of sex abuse scandals, Pope Francis continues the schedule's visit in Chile

During his visit, Francis has encountered an atmosphere of distrust in the church by some non-believers, who claim justice for the victims of abuse scandals. The Pope apologized for the committed crimes.

"Here I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the church. We commit ourselves to ensuring such things do not happen again", he said.  Almost 80 religious abused minors in Chile, reported a list by the American NGO Bishop Accountability. Since 2003, the NGO is dedicated to publishing the abuses of the Catholic Church.

The most emblematic case in the country was the one of the priest Fernando Karadima, who was denounced in 2010 by several victims. However, in the Chilean justice system the case was prescribed. Moreover, the Vatican declared him guilty of sexual abuse and condemned him to retire "to a life of prayer and penance."

The mass homily

Around 400 thousand people traveled from all over Chile and South America to Santiago for the mass homily officiated by Francis. They prepared with their smartphones and white handkerchiefs to remember the visit of the Pontiff's to The O'higgins Park -capital south center- where the mass was celebrated.

"Pope Francis tries to move in a terrain not explored by the Church, the transformation.  Although it may be perceived that he's less commitment to institutionalist, in doing so, he stands for the people (...) I feel the world had to chosen him from before", affirmed to LatinAmerican Post Luis Caisedo, a 49-year-old Colombian resident in Chile.

Since 3 o'clock in the morning, people took a place at the park to guarantee a good position in the homily. Most of them traveled on Monday night and early Tuesday, from regions far from the capital to participate in the activities of the highest representative of Catholicism in Chile after 31 years.

"We arrived at 3:30 in the morning. We are losing patience waiting, but I know he will worth it (...) in these times when humanity doesn't have much faith, to see so many people here, makes me realize that Chile is still a catholic country", said Maria Elena, a housekeeper who traveled from the south of the country for the event.

Expensive visit

Four billion Chilean pesos -almost six million dollars- cost the holy travel, according to information released on the official web site of the visit of Francis in Chile. The expensive price came from investment from private Catholics funds, said the portal.

This was one of the main reasons that triggered the protest a few miles near the celebration. "Having so many needs in the country and the regions and so many people waiting for a fair treatment in hospitals, there is no justification for that kind of spent on a pope who covers pedophiles”, one of the protesters told the local press. Nevertheless, the protest did not take so much long. A special brigade of the Carabineros (militarized police) broke it and got twenty of the protestors arrested.

However, Francis followers don't believe that the investment is not comparable to the experience lived. "The profits for the country are good (...) it is a gigantic benefit for the town to visit a man so important for the Christian faith," said Karen Ortiz, dental student from Talca, city 250 kilometers south of Santiago.

Argentines traveled to see their "rockstar"

Francis is the first pope who during his first leader period has not visited his native country, Argentina. There is no official version of why he hasn't, but the press has speculated that this is a way to stay away from the political changes.

"Francis knows when he will go, we shouldn't hurry him. What really matters is that he represents Latin-American and knows poverty from close" Carlos Padula, a 40-year-old Argentinean businessman, told LatinAmerican Post while he waited for the homily after travel from San Luis, Argentina.

Nonetheless, the Pope offered greetings to his native town from the airplane that was flying to Chile "When flying over the Argentine airspace, I offer you my warm greetings and send from the heart my good wishes to all the people of my mother country, assuring my closeness and blessings. I ask all of you, please, do not stop praying for me", according to what local press revealed.

It is expected that the maximum representative of the Catholic Church perform other activities such as close encounters with young people and inmates in Chile.

Despite protests presented because of Francis’ visit, he transmits being a close pope to his followers in Latin America.

LatinAmerican Post | María Eugenia Hernández
Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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