By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis is on his 22nd Apostolic visit outside Italy that is taking him to Chile and Peru. He will be in Chile 15-17 January where he will visit Santiago, Temuco and Iquique. He will the proceed to Peru, Jan. 18-21, visiting Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo. The Chile-Peru trip is the Pope’s fourth to South America.
In a message ahead of his visit, the Holy Father said he was going to the two Latin American nations as a pilgrim to share the Gospel's message of hope and joy. The Argentinian Pontiff said he was aware of the history of both countries and was grateful for the people's faith and love for God, particularly in caring for those "discarded by society."
St. Albert Hurtado
Among the appointments of the Pope in Chile is a meeting, Tuesday evening, with the Jesuits at the sanctuary of Chilean St. Albert Hurtado, in Santiago. A lawyer, social worker and writer, the Chilean Jesuit priest, who died in 1952, was declared a saint by Pope Benedict XVI on October 23, 2005.
St. Hurtado, the founder of “Hogar de Cristo” (Christ’s Home), Chile’s largest anti-poverty NGO, is credited with awakening the “social conscience” of Chileans for the poor, according to Chilean Jesuit priest Father Agustín Moreira who taught at the Albert Hurtado university.
Stefan von Kempis of Vatican News who is following Pope Francis in Chile, talked to Fr. Moreira ahead of the Pope’s Tuesday visit to St. Albert Hurtado Sanctuary. Kempis asked Fr. Moreira whether the social thrust of St. Hurtado is different from that of Pope Francis.
Fr. Moreira said the Pope Francis is in the “same social line” as Hurtado. Because they both share the “same social conscience”, the Pope is visiting Temuco and Iquique. Temucho, Fr. Moreira said, has a big social problem where the Mapuche indigenous people live in extreme poverty, the highest rate of poverty in Chile.
The Jesuit priest said that Pope Francis will encourage the Jesuits to keep working to improve the social condition of the Mapuche in the La Araucanía region.
Iquique, on the other hand has a high percentage of immigrants. Talking about the migration problem, Fr. Moreira said those coming to Chile are mainly from Haiti, Venezuela, Bolivia and the neighbouring countries. He said migrants escape social and political problems, violence and the lack of opportunities in their home countries. Regarding migrants “a great news for us”, the Jesuit priest said the Church is concerned about how they are received.
Fr. Moreira explained that migration is a worldwide problem that has to be tackled primarily in the countries of origin, solving the problems that force them to migrate.