At today's general audience, Francis reviews his trip to Chile and Peru.
“There are always conflicts, at home too; handling conflict badly is even worse. Conflicts aren’t resolved by hiding them under the bed… conflict is resolved through dialogue,” said Pope Francis today during the general audience in Saint Peter’s Square.
The pope centered his discourse on his apostolic trip to Chile and Peru last week.
He remembered the faces of the “mothers who are prisoners, and their children” from his visit to a prison in Chile, and the Church’s commitment against sexual abuse. He also recalled listening to the true situation of the Mapuches and other native peoples of Chile and Peru.
“What would Christ do in my place?” was the question that he asked young people in Chile, paraphrasing the words of one of the country’s native saints, Alberto Hurtado. And in Peru, he encouraged the people to be “united, but not in sterile uniformity.”
The pope acknowledged the work of the volunteers. “You know what? In each country, there were 20,000 volunteers!” he announced, to the applause of the faithful in Saint Peter’s Square.
Here are the key points of the pope’s review of his sixth apostolic trip to Latin America:
“My arrival in Chile had been preceded by various protests, for various reasons. And this made the theme of my visit even more relevant and vivid: ‘My peace I give you.'” As of yesterday, there have been 11 attacks against Catholic churches in that Andean country.
In the meeting with the country’s civil authorities, “I encouraged them to follow the path of Chilean democracy, as a space for meeting each other… capable of including diversity.”
To that end, he directed them toward the “method of listening”—in particular, to “the poor, to young people, and to the elderly, to immigrants, and also listening to the earth.” “During the first Eucharistic celebration, offered for peace and justice, the Beatitudes resonated” (Mt 5:9). There, he emphasized the work of peacemakers.
The faces of the prisoners who are mothers, with their children in their arms
He emphasized how he was impressed by the faces of the young mothers “with their babes in their arms” that he visited at the jail in Santiago. “I encouraged them to demand from themselves, from the institutions, a serious journey of preparation for reintegration, as a horizon that gives meaning to their daily suffering.”
Commitment against sexual abuse
He said that he experienced two very intense meetings, one with priests and consecrated women and one with the Chilean bishops—meetings that were “even more fruitful because of the shared suffering due to some wounds that afflict the Church in that country.”
“In particular, I confirmed my brothers in rejecting any compromise with sexual abuse of minors, and at the same time, trusting in God, who, through this difficult trial, purifies and renews His ministers.”
Acknowleding the true situation of the Mapuches
He recalled the Masses celebrated in Chile; one in the south and another in the north. “In Araucania, the land where the Mapuche Indians live, it transformed into joy the drama of that people, calling for the peace that is harmony in diversity and the repudiation of all violence.”
In the north, “in Iquique, between the ocean and the desert,” the Mass was “a hymn to the meeting of the peoples, expressed in a singular way through popular religiosity.”
“What would Christ do in my place?”
Similarly, he spoke of his meetings with young people and with the Catholic University of Chile with the goal of “offering a great meaning for the life of new generations.” There, he left the young people with the guiding phrase of Saint Alberto Hurtado. “What would Christ do in my place?”
At the University, he proposed a model of integral formation, that translates the Catholic identity into an ability to participate in the construction of united and pluralistic societies, where conflicts aren’t hidden, but are handled through dialogue.
“There are always conflicts, at home too; handling conflict badly is even worse. Conflicts aren’t resolved by hiding them under the bed… conflict is resolved through dialogue,” said Pope Francis.
In Peru, the theme of his visit was: “United by hope.” In this regard, he explained, “United not in sterile uniformity, but in all the richness of the differences that we inherit from history and culture.”
“No” to colonization and ideology
His meeting with the peoples of the Peruvian Amazon was emblematic, and he considered it a first step towards the Pan-Amazonian Synod convoked for October of 2019.
He remembered his meeting with the people of Puerto Maldonado and with the children of the Welcoming House “The Little Prince.”
“Together, we said ‘no’ to economic and ideological colonization,” he said.
Corruption is like a virus
Speaking to political and civil authorities in Peru, he said, he focused on “the two realities that most threaten the country: ecological-social degradation, and corruption.”
“I don’t know if you have heard people speaking about corruption here. It’s not only in those parts of the world. It’s here too. It’s more dangerous than a virus. It mixes in and ruins your heart. Please, say ‘no’ to corruption!”
“And I mentioned that no one is free of responsibility in the face of these two wounds, and the commitment to counteract them concerns everyone.”
Solidarity with the victims of El Niño Costero
In Trujillo, Peru, during his first public Mass, he explained that he empathized with the thousands of people affected by the “El Niño Costero,” the meteorological phenomenon that “dealt the population a heavy blow last year.”
However, he also called them to take action against “other storms such as criminality, and the lack of education, work, and safe housing.”
Religious men and women called to serve as missionaries and called to joy
“In Trujillo, I also met with priests and consecrated men and women of northern Peru, sharing with them the joy of the call and of the mission, and the responsibility for communion in the Church.”
“I encouraged them to be rich in memory and faithful to their roots. And among these roots is popular devotion to the Virgin Mary.”
The example of the saints
Also in Trujillo, a Marian celebration took place in which Francis crowned the “Virgen de la Puerta” (“Virgin of the Gate”), proclaiming her “the Mother of Mercy and of Hope.”
The events of the last day of the trip, last Sunday, took place in Lima.
“At the most famous shrine in Peru, where we honor the painting of the Crucifixion called ‘The Lord of Miracles,’ I met with approximately 500 contemplative female religious: a true ‘lung’ of faith and of prayer for the Church and for society.”
“At the Cathedral, I led a special act of prayer asking the intercession of the Peruvian saints; afterwards, I had a meeting with the country’s bishops, to whom I proposed the exemplary figure of Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo,” he recounted.
To the youth of Peru, he showed “the saints as men and women who don’t lose time ‘putting makeup’ on their own image,” but who follow Christ with hope.
Unity of Christians
After explaining each stage of his 22nd apostolic voyage, the Pontiff mentioned that a group of sick children were also participating in the audience, connected by video on a large screen in Paul VI Hall, so they wouldn’t suffer the cold of the winter in Rome.
At the end, the Pontiff asked his listeners to pray for the two nations he had visited. Also, in the context of the week of prayer for Christian unity, he invited them to persist in seeking this intention through prayer and action.
Appeal for the Democratic Republic of Congo
Pope Francis appealed for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, from whence, “sadly, we receive bad news… The Church only wants to contribute to peace,” he said. The audience ended with the prayer of the Our Father.
This article is translated and adapted from Aleteia’s Spanish edition.