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Montevideo, February 17th 2018 - 23:32 UTC

Francis arrives in Chile to a divided church with threats of violence and protests over abuses allegations

Monday, January 15th 2018 - 02:41 UTC
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“Pope Francis, the next bombs will be on your cassock,” read one of the messages, according to local newspapers. “Pope Francis, the next bombs will be on your cassock,” read one of the messages, according to local newspapers.
The attacks on the churches started on Friday, leaving some with burned doors and charred and busted windows. No one was hurt, according to local reports. The attacks on the churches started on Friday, leaving some with burned doors and charred and busted windows. No one was hurt, according to local reports.
Aleuy denounced the violence in a press release, saying, “everyone has a right of expression so long as it's peaceful and not violent.” Aleuy denounced the violence in a press release, saying, “everyone has a right of expression so long as it's peaceful and not violent.”
Protests over the church's sex scandal are expected with Osorno residents strongly objecting to Francis' 2015 decision to appoint controversial Juan Barros as bishop Protests over the church's sex scandal are expected with Osorno residents strongly objecting to Francis' 2015 decision to appoint controversial Juan Barros as bishop

Pope Francis' trip to South America is supposed to be all about peace, unity and hope. But the pontiff could also be welcomed with protests, threats of violence and controversy over allegations of abuses by the Catholic Church. Argentina born Francis comes to his home continent for a two-country, six-city apostolic visit that starts in Chile this Monday and ends in Peru a week later.

 According to Vatican officials, some of his themes on the trip will include the environment and the plight of indigenous peoples. In Pope Francis tradition, he will be meeting with his Jesuit brothers and Catholic bishops, but also the poor, the vulnerable, youth groups and indigenous communities.

Already there has been recent violence in Santiago, Chile's capital, where at least five churches were recently attacked -- some with firebombs -- according to the country's Interior sub secretary, Mahmud Aleuy. The vandals left behind a menacing message.

“Pope Francis, the next bombs will be on your cassock,” read one of the messages, according to local newspapers. The attacks on the churches started on Friday, leaving some with burned doors and charred and busted windows. No one was hurt, according to local reports.

Aleuy denounced the violence in a press release, saying, “everyone has a right of expression so long as it's peaceful and not violent.” One of the churches attacked is near the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican embassy where the pontiff will stay while in Chile.

In the wake of the attacks the security plan for the Pope's visit is being re-evaluated and reinforced, Aleuy said. No one has been arrested in connection with the church attacks.

Protests over the Catholic church's clerical sex scandal also are expected. Residents of the southern city of Osorno vehemently object to Francis' decision to appoint Juan Barros in 2015 as bishop of the diocese there and have said they plan to protest his arrival in Santiago. In conservative Chile the controversy over abortion and other same sex initiatives have triggered strong reactions.

Last but not least Francis will overfly Argentina, where many Catholics are awaiting his long overdue visit. The excuse so far has been that the Pope did not want to interfere in local politics and last year's midterm elections, but it is also believed that chemistry with president Mauricio Macri is not the best.

Francis has publicly condemned capitalism, and president Macri's pro market policies, austerity and gradual elimination of subsidies that have overwhelmed Argentina's budget, have had an impact in the province of Buenos Aires, where the pope has a great influence. Catholic bishops have repeatedly denounced growing poverty in the country's richest province.

Besides Francis had managed a fluid relation with former president Cristina Fernandez who visited him several times, supposedly to consult him, but has now been indicted in several cases allegedly involving money laundering, fraud, patronizing and public works contracts manipulation.

Top Comments

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  • Chicureo

    It's fair to note that the current Holy Father will not be as received as Juan Pablo II. There are many Catholics here that are less than enthusiastic with some of his liberal policies and others that will criticize him for not being even more progressive. No matter what he says about the Mapuches will be met with skepticism by both sides. There are strong historical cases of sexual abuse that has not been appropriately handled which has still not been properly resolved...

    As for me, I will continue to practice what I call “relevant Catholicism” while I wait patiently for the Church and its doctrine to catch up to modern society. If it doesn’t happen in my lifetime, that’s all right – I’ll go to my grave knowing I stood up for what was practical and real. And if that makes me a Cafeteria Catholic, so be it.as for me

    Jan 15th, 2018 - 03:24 am +3
  • Brit Bob

    Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff, said in 2012 when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires that Britain had “usurped” the disputed islands from Argentina. In 2011, he said the islands were “ours,” a view most Argentinians share. Seriously, have you heard of a territory being usurped in the 19th century? Neither have I.

    Falkland Islands – The Usurpation (1 pg): https://www.academia.edu/34838377/Falkland_Islands_The_Usurpation

    Jan 15th, 2018 - 10:11 am +1
  • Enrique Massot

    Previous popes visited countries and religious fervour was paramount. Now a pope who takes seriously the original teachings of the Church talking about social justice and wealth distribution meets with violent incidents and a lot of bad press.

    It appears a lot of people are okay with organized religion as long as it suports the status quo and does not come up with suspicious social theories such as - horror! - equality and justice for all.

    Jan 16th, 2018 - 05:03 am +1
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