Vatican City — Pope Francis will visit Chile and Peru in 2018, the Vatican announced on Monday.
The Holy See said Francis will visit Chile from Jan. 15-18, then head to Peru, where he’ll stay until Jan. 21. The cities on the Argentine-born pontiff’s itinerary include Chile’s capital, Santiago, and the Peruvian capital, Lima. He’ll also visit Temuco and Iquique in Chile and Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo in Peru, with details of his schedule to be announced at a later date, according to the Vatican.
The Holy See said Francis had accepted invitations from the respective heads of state and local bishops.
Francis is scheduled to visit another South American country, Colombia, in early September 2017.
In his voyage in January — summer time in Chile and Peru — Francis will be seeing flocks of faithful where the Vatican’s handling of sex abuse cases has fueled bitter criticism.
In Peru, victims of a charismatic Catholic lay leader-turned-sexual predator have complained of years of delay in handling the case revolving around the Peru-based organization Sodalitium Christianae Vitae. The organization was one of several conservative groups formed as a reaction to the left-leaning liberation theology influencing Latin America church circles a few decades ago. Victims first complained to the Lima diocese in in 2011 about Luis Fernando Figari, who founded the lay movement.
In Chile, local authorities for years refused to believe those who had been abused by a charismatic priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who eventually was punished by the Vatican in 2011, when he was ordered to live a life a penance and prayer for his crimes.
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