Pope Francis has travelled to Chile, where he faces challenges including a hostile population and the aftermath of an abuse scandal. He arrived in Monday for a visit which will include meetings with political and religious leaders and a visit to the shrine of Majpu. From Thursday to Sunday he will be in Peru. On Monday’s flight, the Pope handed journalists a photograph of a boy in Nagasaki carrying his dead brother to a crematorium, as a warning about nuclear war.
What secular media are saying
In the Pope’s 22nd overseas trip, said the BBC’s Eva Ontiveros, he will “meet an unprecedented degree of hostility on his native continent”. No Latin American country has a lower view of the Church. The visit is seen as a waste of money, and there is still widespread dismay at the Church’s treatment of Fr Fernando Karadima, a priest eventually found guilty of child molestation. “Pope Francis has made clear his ‘zero tolerance’ for abuse, but his appointment of one of Fr Karadima’s protégés – Juan Barros – as the bishop of Osorno in southern Chile has reopened old wounds.”
But the trip will emphasise social justice, said The Economist. “Some Catholics hope that young people will find Francis’s environmentalism, modest lifestyle and open manner attractive.”
What Catholic media are saying
At Crux, Inés San Martin noted that Francis would “deliver 21 homilies, speeches, greetings and prayers, addressing several of the issues closest to his heart: the plight of indigenous peoples and migrants, popular religiosity, and protection of the environment.” Chile is recovering from an “extremely polarised” election, while Peru is vehemently debating a recent presidential pardon on medical grounds for former president Alberto Fujimori, who had been imprisoned for human rights violations.
At Catholic News Agency, Giselle Vargas reported from the Santiago prison which Francis was scheduled to visit. “That the Pope would come and remember us means that God has remembered us,” said inmate Nelly Dominguez. “I believe it’s the providence of God, nothing less.”
✣Cardinal laments delay on Ahiara crisis
Cardinal John Onaiyekan has made public his concerns about Ahiara diocese in Nigeria, where a stand-off continues to drag on. The Pope demanded obedience from the diocese’s priests after they refused to accept their bishop. But they have not submitted. Cardinal Onaiyekan told Crux this set an alarming precedent.
Why was it under-reported?
The story has never quite caught the imagination of the media, possibly because it is so unique to the Nigerian situation. Bishop Peter Okpaleke,
appointed in 2012, is part of the Ibo ethnic group. The Ahiara priests, who, like their flock, are mostly from the Mbaise, believe the Ibo are far too dominant in the Nigerian Church.
The standoff has also lost the attention of the media because of a lack of development. The Pope’s demand has passed, with the priests saying that Francis has been misinformed and Rome not imposing discipline.
What will happen next?
According to the cardinal, the whole procedure of episcopal appointments is hanging in the balance. “If somebody can create enough problems in such a way that you can no longer rely on his stable episcopacy, then you can force the Pope’s hand,” he told Crux. He wouldn’t want the bishop to quietly stand aside. But does the Vatican really want a large-scale confrontation by sanctioning priests? Cardinal Onaiyekan believes there may be no choice. Nigerian Catholics “would rather face the consequences of pushing the matter to wherever it leads.”
✣The week ahead
On his first full day in Peru the Pope will fly to the city of Puerto Maldonado to meet indigenous people from the Amazon whose way of life is under threat. The meeting comes ahead of the Amazon synod in October next year. The Pope will also visit the northern city of Trujillo, which was submerged by deadly floods last year, and Lima, the capital.
a requiem Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday for Bishop Francis Walmsley (right), Britain’s first Bishop of the Forces. The Mass will take place at St Michael and St George’s Cathedral, the bishopric’s seat in Aldershot, Hampshire.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols will attend a “faith breakfast” hosted by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick on Tuesday. The police chief has told the Evening Standard that faith groups can be “powerful in preventing crime”. Cardinal Nichols has worked closely with police as part of the Pope’s anti-trafficking initiative, the Santa Marta Group.
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