Pope Francis is expected to land shortly in Santiago, Chile, for a week-long visit which will also include Peru. Although the Pope is back in Latin America, this 22nd trip which he is making outside of Italy is being considered as his most difficult and challenging to date.
Before leaving Rome, on Twitter the Pope asked for Christians to accompany him on his journey with their prayers.
The visit to Chile and Peru is expected to convey a message in favour of peace, unity and hope, and is being held under strict security because protests are being expected, as well as threats of violence and controversy over alleged abuse by the Catholic Church.
In the capital of Chile, Santiago attacks have also been carried out on at least five churches – some of them with fire bombs. According to local papers, the aggressors left behind threatening messages aimed at the Pope saying, “Pope Francis, the next bombs will be on your cassock.”
Protests are also expected in Santiago because of sexual scandals by priests.
More protests are expected in Peru, where the Vatican recently took over control of a Catholic organisation after allegations that its members had sexually, physically and psychologically abused adolescents. Relatives of the victims who spoke with the local media, expressed their wish to speak with the Pope. However, according to the Vatican this is not in the programme and therefore protests are expected against the way the Church is handling this case.
During his 16-hour journey towards Santiago, the Pope expressed his fears that we are on the brink of a nuclear war. He shared a photo with the journalists who are accompanying him on this trip which was taken during the atomic explosion of 1945, and warned that we need to destroy these weapons. The Pope said that one accident is enough for the situation to deteriorate.
The Pope arrives in Peru on Thursday.