After three trying days in Chile, facing a sex abuse crisis and several layers of political tension, not to mention the specter of churches being attacked while he was in town, Pope Francis might be forgiven for hoping he could throttle back a bit as he heads to Peru on Thursday.
Pope Francis, in his first formal speech in Chile, asked forgiveness from those who were sexually abused by priests.
“Here I am, Lord, to do your will”. In this meeting, we want to tell the Lord: “Here we are”, and renew our “yes” to him. We want to renew together our response to the call that one day took our hearts by surprise.
Pope Francis was visibly moved on Tuesday as he visited a prison for women in Chile. Beyond the setting, in itself touching for a man who’s made a point of visiting prisons, what seemed to stir the pope most were remarks by Janeth Zurita, one of the inmates.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to visit you. For me it is important to share this time with you and draw closer to our many brothers and sisters presently deprived of their freedom.
In these first words of today’s Gospel we discover how Jesus wants to encounter us, the way that God always surprises his people (cf. Ex 3:7).
Authorities say two churches were burned in the early hours of Tuesday in the southern Araucania region. The pope is set to visit with indigenous Mapuches Wednesday in Temuco, the capital of Araucania. The third church attacked was in Puento Alto, just south of Santiago.
In his second public acknowledgment on Tuesday of the clerical sexual abuse scandals that have rocked Chile in recent years, Pope Francis told priests and religious that many have had to “pay a heavy price,” sometimes facing insults in public for the mere fact of wearing clerical attire.