Chile and Peru: Pope Francis' challenges in his first trip of 2018

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From January 15 to 18, Pope Francis will travel to Chile. He will visit the capital first. On January 16, the pope will meet with President Michelle Bachelet and celebrate Mass in O'Higgins Park – the same place where John Paul II presided over a liturgy in 1987. Later, the Holy Father will visit a women's prison. 

The following day, Pope Francis will visit Temuco, one of the main areas of the Mapuche conflict. The indigenous community accuses the governments of Argentina and Chile of genocide.

Mining is an important sector in Chile. In 2015, the pope was able to greet the miners who were trapped in San Jose five years earlier. 

“I believe that any of you would be capable of coming here and saying what hope means. Thank you for trusting in God.”

Thus, on the last day of the trip, Pope Francis will visit the northern part of the country, an area with a large mining and migrant presence. He will be in the coastal city of Iquique. It's also the region that divides Chileans and Bolivians, given that Bolivia seeks to reclaim an outlet to the sea.

On January 18, the pope will arrive in Peru, one of the countries affected most by corruption. Cardinal Cipriani told mostly European journalists in Rome that he anticipated a challenging trip for the Holy Father, especially due to the climate. 

Archbishop of Lima
“He's going to be in the rain and terrible humidity of Puerto Maldonado. He's going to go to Lima, where it will also be 80-plus degrees, and Trujillo, where it will be the same and have 70-percent humidity.”

Pope Francis' first stop will be Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon. The environment, respect for indigenous communities and the exploitation of minors for gold extraction will most likely be topics of the pope's address.  

On January 20, the trip will continue to Trujillo, a region greatly devastated by flooding that even engulfed an entire village this past April.

The last day of the trip will take place in Lima. There, the pope will meet with bishops from the country and celebrate Mass in the Las Palmas square before returning to Rome. 

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