Today Pope Francis, the first pontiff from Latin American, arrived in Chile for a papal visit. The reception was warm and loving but cloaked in the dark clouds of the priest sexual abuse scandal.
Specifically, Chilean’s and other Latin Americans want the pope to offer a form of more severe punishment for priests accused of abusing minors. Most of all Latin Americans want the Pope to directly ask for forgiveness from his people, in the name of the Church for all the abusers it historically shielded.
Chile specifically is upset that the Pontiff appointed Bishop Juan Barros that was known to have protected Father Fernando Karadima a known abuser of young teen boys. According to bishopaccountability.org Chile has 80 Chilean religious members including priest that has been accused of sexual abuse.
Despite the waning influence of the Catholic Church in Latin America, today thousands lined the streets of Santiago screaming “Viva Papa Francisco.” President Michelle Bachelet was on the tarmac to greet the Argentine-born Pontiff.
The last papal visit in Chile was under the rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1987. This is the first leg of his Latin American papal tour. On Thursday the pope will travel to Peru.
On March 13, 2013 Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires became the 266th pope, set to lead 1.2 billion Roman Catholics word wide. Cardinal Bergoglio chose the name Francis, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.
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