Welcoming migrants and respect for life from conception until natural death are two of the “very high topics” facing Chile as Pope Francis makes his apostolic visit to the country, according to the president of a Catholic university.
Professor Ignacio Sánchez, Rector of the Catholic University of Chile in Santiago where Pope Francis will make an address on Wednesday, said equity and respect for minorities were also among the issues that the Pontiff might include in his speeches during his three-day visit to Chile.
“Excellent time” for Pope to come
Speaking with Vatican News ahead of the Pope’s arrival, Professor Sánchez said: “This is an excellent time for the Pope to come because we are facing a society which has to realise we have been growing as a country in economic ways, social ways. We have a lot of accomplishments but also we have a lot of things we have to accomplish, to address.”
Saint Alberto Hurtado
Professor Sánchez said Pope Francis was speaking about the same issues as a former student and professor of the university, Saint Alberto Hurtado. He explained that the popular Jesuit priest of the 20th century fought throughout his life “against inequality and social differences that at that time were real in our country.”
Saint Alberto founded a trade union association for Chile and 1947 and wrote three important works on trade unions, social humanism and the Christian social order. He was canonised by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, becoming Chile’s second saint.
Prof Sánchez said: “Alberto Hurtado shows a pathway, a route in social issues, to put a certain equality on those issues. And Pope Francis is fighting against the same issues.” Among them, he said, were differences in economy and differences in respect of people, including migrants. “I guess both persons are facing the same objective which is working for the dignity of the human being.”
Meeting with students
The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile was founded in 1888 upon the initiative of the then Archbishop of Santiago, Mariano Casanova, and received the “pontifical” title in 1935 after a Faculty of Theology was founded.
Pope Francis is set to address several hundred students and academics at the university on Wednesday before spending the night at the Apostolic Nunciature in Santiago.