VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Less than a week before embarking on a
seven-day visit to South America, Pope Francis said he would go to Chile and
Peru as a pilgrim and share the Gospel's message of hope and joy.
"I want to meet with you, look into your eyes, see your
faces and experience God's closeness, his tenderness and mercy that embraces
and consoles us," the pope said in a video message released by the Vatican
The pope will be in Chile Jan. 15-18, visiting the cities of
Santiago, Temuco and Iquique. He then will fly to Peru and from Jan. 18-21, he
will visit Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.
In his message, Pope Francis said he was familiar with the
history of both countries and was grateful for the people's faith and love for God,
particularly in caring for those "discarded by society."
"The throwaway culture has invaded us more and more,"
he said. "I want to share in your joys, your sorrows, your difficulties
and hopes and tell you that you are not alone, that the pope is with you (and)
that the whole church embraces you."
Pope Francis also said he hoped to share with the people the
experience of the peace that comes from God through Christ's resurrection,
which is the foundation of peaceful coexistence in society and "heals our
"To feel God's closeness makes us a living community
that is capable of moving with those who are at our side and take firm steps
toward friendship and brotherhood. We are brothers and sisters who go out to
meet others to confirm one another in the same faith and hope," the pope
The Peru-Chile trip will be Pope Francis' fourth to South
America. In July 2013, he visited Brazil for World Youth Day. In July 2015, he
traveled to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, and in September 2017, he visited