The Vatican (Friday, January 12, 2018, Gaudium Press) Ahead of his visit to Chile and Peru, Pope Francis has said he wants to bring a message of peace and hope to both countries, which he said have been successful in fighting a "culture of waste" through their care for the poor and needy.
In a Jan. 9 video message to both Chile and Peru, Francis told people from each country that "I want to meet with you, to look you in the eyes, to see your faces and be able to experience the closeness of God, his closeness and mercy, which embraces and consoles us."
Pope Francis walks by the popemobile at the Vatican Dec. 13, 2017. (L’Osservatore Romano via CNA)
Both countries were forged with "determination and commitment," he said, adding that he thanks God for "the faith and the love for God [the people show] and for the neediest brothers, especially for the love that you have for those who are discarded by society."
"The culture of waste increasingly invades us," he said, explaining that while there, he wants to participate "in your joys and sorrows, your difficulties and your hopes, and tell you that you are not alone, that the Pope is with you, that the entire Church welcomes you, that the Church is looking at you."
Pope Francis sent his message just days ahead of his departure for Chile and Peru, where he will visit Jan. 15-22.
In Chile, Pope Francis will visit the capital of Santiago, as well as the cities of Temuco and Iquique. In Peru, he will visit the capital city of Lima, as well as Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.
The theme of his visit in Chile is "I Give You My Peace," while the theme of the Peru trip is "United by Hope."
In his message, Francis touched on both themes, saying he wants the countries to experience "the peace that comes from God and which is so needed; only he can give it to us."
The Pope said peace is a gift meant for everyone and is "the foundation of our coexistence and of society." This peace, he said, "is sustained in justice and allows us to encounter moments of harmony and communion."
We must constantly ask for this peace, which comes from the Risen Lord and "drives us to be missionaries, reviving the gift of faith which leads us to encounter, to the communion shared by the same faith celebrated and committed."
This encounter with the Risen Christ also confirms us in hope, Francis said, explaining that "we do not want to be anchored in the things of this world, [when] our gaze goes far off [from heaven]." Rather, our eyes should be fixed "on his mercy, which heals our miseries."
"Only he can give us the thrust to get up and follow," he said, adding that "we are brothers who go out to meet others in order to confirm each other in the same faith and hope."
The Pope closed the video entrusting his visit to Mary's intercession and, as usual, asked for prayers, adding that he will be praying for the people of Chile and Peru.
Pope Francis is scheduled to land in Santiago just after 8pm Jan. 15 and has no official events apart from the welcoming ceremony, after which he will head directly to the apostolic nunciature.
The next day he'll meet with the country's authorities and diplomatic corps and will have a private audience with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet before saying Mass. He'll then make a brief visit to a women's prison before meeting with Chile's priests, seminarians, religious and bishops in the afternoon.
His last activity for the day will be a private visit to a shrine dedicated to Jesuit St. Alberto Hurtado, where he will meet with the country's Jesuit priests.
On Jan. 17 the Pope will head to Temuco, where he will say Mass and have lunch with 10 people at the motherhouse for the Sisters of the Holy Cross order. He'll then head back to Santiago for a meeting with youth and a visit to the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.
The next day, his final one in Chile, Francis will go to Iquique in the morning, where he will celebrate Mass and have lunch at the retreat house for the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. He'll then head directly to the Iquique airport, where he'll depart for Lima, Peru.
Francis will land in Lima the evening of Jan. 18, but has no official events scheduled. His first formal appointment will take place Jan. 19, when he travels to Puerto Maldonado to meet with people from the Amazon region.
After this audience, the Pope will meet with the civil population and make a brief visit to the "Little Prince Home," which houses some 40 at-risk children and youth. He'll then lunch with representatives from the Amazon before returning to Lima, where he's scheduled to meet with Peru's authorities and diplomatic corps.
Though he typically meets with the country's authorities and diplomats as his first official engagement during international trips, Pope Francis has on occasion made exceptions.
His decision to meet with people from the Amazon first, then, is a sign of how important the region is to him, both for environmental reasons related to his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, as well as the fact that in 2019 he will be holding a Pan-Amazonian synod to address problems related to the area.
After his meeting with authorities, Pope Francis will hold a private meeting with Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who recently survived an impeachment vote over corruption charges, and will meet with the country's Jesuits.
On Jan. 20, the Pope will head to Trujillo, where he will celebrate Mass and ride through the city's "Buenos Aires" neighborhood, one of the poorest areas in town. Francis will then visit the city's cathedral and afterward will meet with the country's priests, religious and seminarians.
He will then head back to Lima, where he will start his final day in Peru, Jan. 21, praying the Liturgy of the Hours with a contemplative order before venerating the relics of several Peruvian saints in the city's cathedral.
The Pope will then meet with the country's bishops, pray the Angelus and say Mass before heading back to Rome, where he is expected to arrive around 2:15pm Jan. 22.
Francis, the Church's first Latin-American pope, has visited several countries in South and Central America, including Brazil in 2013, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay in 2015, Cuba and Mexico in 2016, and Colombia in 2017.
The last pope to visit Chile and Peru was St. John Paul II, who made pastoral trips to Peru in 1985 and 1988 and to Chile in 1987.