LIMA, Peru (CNS) -- Pope Francis was
greeted by the Peruvian president, the country's bishops, a military honor
guard and a children's orchestra on his arrival in Peru on Jan. 18. During his
visit, he will meet with Amazonian indigenous people from three countries,
visit a neighborhood devastated by flooding early last year, and pray in the
place of Peru's greatest popular religious devotion.
Accompanied by President Pedro
Pablo Kuczynsky, the pope heard the "Hallelujah Chorus" sung by a
choir accompanied by a children's orchestra. The bishops filed past, greeting
the president, and the Cabinet ministers then greeted the pope, who blessed a
religious item for one.
Helicopters buzzed overhead and
security was heavy along the motorcade route from the airport to the nuncio's
residence, where he will stay, while onlookers waved and some chanted
"Pope Francis, we want your blessing."
In Peru, he is likely to return
to several themes that marked his visit to Chile. In the southeastern town of
Puerto Maldonado, members of various Amazonian indigenous peoples will ask for
his support in defense of their rights to territory, health, education and
their indigenous identity. Those demands echo sentiments expressed by Mapuche
people in southern Chile.
Visiting the Amazonian area
where forests have been obliterated by unregulated gold mining, the pope will
call on Christians to care for "our common home," as he did in the
encyclical, "Laudato Si'."
Pope Francis also is expected to
mention migration and human trafficking. Thousands of migrants, mainly from
Venezuela, have arrived in Peru in recent years in search of better
opportunities. The gold-mining area around Puerto Maldonado is a destination
for human traffickers, who force women into prostitution.
As he did in Chile, he is likely
to raise the issue of sexual abuse by church workers, in the wake of
accusations against leaders of Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a Catholic
movement founded in Lima in the 1970s. The Vatican recently named a Colombian
bishop to oversee the group because of concerns about formation and financial
The trip will highlight the deep
faith that Peruvian Catholics express through popular religious devotions in
various parts of the country.
On Jan. 19, the pope will meet
with indigenous people from the Amazonian regions of Peru, Brazil and Bolivia. The
event will mark the first step toward the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon,
which Pope Francis has called for 2019. He also will meet with civil society
representatives and visit a children's home founded by a Swiss missionary
After returning to Lima in the
afternoon, he will address government officials, civil society representatives
and members of the diplomatic corps and speak with Kuczynski. He also will meet
with fellow Jesuits at the ornate colonial San Pedro Church in downtown Lima.
On the second day of his trip,
Pope Francis will travel to Trujillo, on Peru's northern coast. He will visit
the neighborhood of Buenos Aires, where houses were inundated with 3-5 feet of
water and mud during unseasonable flooding in March 2016. Father Hipolito
Puricaza Sernaque, secretary-general of the diocesan Caritas office, said
people hope the pope's words during his trip will "soften the hearts of
those responsible for the (post-flood) reconstruction, bring hope and renew our
faith in God."
He also will celebrate an
open-air Mass on the beach. Pilgrims from various parts of northern Peru will greet
the pope with images of Jesus and Mary that are central to popular devotions in
their regions. The pope will pray before the Marian images, particularly the
one known as the Virgen de la Puerta, or Our Lady of the Gate, before returning
On Jan. 21, Pope Francis will
visit the shrine of Our Lord of the Miracles, Peru's largest popular devotion,
and pray before the relics of Peruvian saints, including St. Rose of Lima and
St. Martin of Porres. He also will meet with the country's bishops and pray the
Angelus in Lima's main plaza before celebrating an open-air Mass.