- “I wanted to begin my visit to Peru here,” said Francis during one of his meetings there.
- Francis shared some moments with the native people, the population and pilgrims who arrived for his
- Environmental depredation, human trafficking, illegal mining and other problems are huge concerns for the Holy Father.
Lima, January 19, 2018. – Today’s visit to the eastern city of Puerto Maldonado (Region of Madre de Dios) was a very intense pastoral day for Pope Francis. He held different meetings with the members of the native peoples, the population and the pilgrims that came to this visit. The main purpose of this encounter was to listen to the voices of those who suffer in this remote part of the country.
Choosing Puerto Maldonado as one of the cities for Pope Francis’ visit to Peru was not made by chance. The concern of the Head of the Catholic Church for the social problems in this remote area of the country, aggravated by crimes such as human trafficking, forced labour and illegal mining, will make the whole world pay attention to these issues. His presence in Puerto Maldonado will help us to become aware of these problems that affect many Peruvian people.
ENCOUNTER WITH THE PEOPLE OF PUERTO MALDONADO
Pope Francis landed in Padre José Aldámiz Airport AT 10.10 am and after a short welcome ceremony, he headed to Madre de Dios sport centre to begin his apostolic journey by meeting with the indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon.
In the framework of the Laudato Sí (Praise be to you) encyclical, where Pope Francis calls for taking care of our common house, he says, “We have to break with the historical paradigm that sees the Amazon as an inexhaustible source of supplies for other States without taking its inhabitants into account”. Francis met with the members of 22 native peoples of the Peruvian Amazon.
At the end of the meeting, the Pope boarded the Popemobile to head for Jorge Basadre Institute. In this journey he waved at the people who were waiting for him along the streets to see him.
WITH THE PEOPLE OF MADRE DE DIOS
Here the Pope was welcomed by a crowd from different regions as well as pilgrims who arrived mainly from Brazil and Bolivia to see him.
“It is painful to see that some want to deny this certainty and turn Madre de Dios into an anonymous land,” he said, making reference to the need to defend life and how the Amazon is a natural and cultural reserve that faces consumerism in our world today.
“EL PRINCIPITO CHILDREN HOME”
After noon, the Pope arrived to “Little Prince” Children Home where he shared moments with a group of vulnerable children and adolescents of this region. The children and also the young people who were once received in this home and now belong to the Association for the Protection of Children and Adolescents “APRONIA”, directed by father Xavier Arbex gathered here.
Francis told the children of this home, “(…) your lives and words are a light of hope. I want to thank you for your testimony,” he said smiling at all the children gathered for this activity.
To finish his pastoral visit in Puerto Maldonado, the Pope had lunch in private with some representatives of the Amazon peoples in “Apaktone” Pastoral Center, which in the harakbut (Amazon people) language means “old father” in honor of the Dominican missionary, father José Álvarez, who arrived in Peru in 1917.
After 14:00 h, the Holy Father headed to the airport to take his flight back to Lima. Upon his arrival in Lima, Francis will visit the President of the Republic, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, and other leaders of the country in the Government Palace. Finally, he will finish the day by meeting the Jesuit community in Saint Peter’s Church, located in the Historical Centre of Lima.
Pope Francis’ Visit to Peru
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