Pope Francis Says 'Doubts And Fears' Should Not Determine Response To Immigrants

Pope Francis Says 'Doubts And Fears' Should Not Determine Response To Immigrants

Pope Francis begged for forgiveness Tuesday for the "irreparable damage" done to children who were raped and molested by priests, opening his visit to Chile by diving head-first into a scandal that has greatly hurt the Catholic Church's credibility here and cast a cloud over his visit.

The Pope said: "I think we are at the very limit".

"Yes, I am really afraid".

Francis, a native of Argentina, comes to his home continent for a two-country, six-city apostolic visit that starts in Chile Monday and ends in Peru a week later.

Barros has been accused of protecting his former mentor, Father Fernando Karadima, whom a Vatican investigation in 2011 found guilty of abusing teenage boys over many years.

"I can not begin to express the pain and shame that I feel over the irreparable harm caused to children on the part of Church ministers", he said.

Preparations for the visit have been overshadowed by a recent report that nearly 80 members of the Chilean clergy have been accused of the sexual abuse of minors since 2000, more than half of them convicted by a Vatican court.

Pope Francis' trip was aimed at highlighting the plight of immigrants and indigenous peoples and underscoring the need to preserve the Amazon rainforest.

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A leaflet left at a parish in Santiago de Chile criticised "the domination" the Catholic Church wanted to exercise over people.

The organization "seeks to stop child sexual abuse by the clergy", said one of its founders, Jose Andres Murillo.

The Bishop of Rome met at La Moneda Palace with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet before continuing his agenda with a Holy Mass for Peace and Justice at O'Higgins Park in this capital, with participation of 400,000 believers. "I think (the visit) will change Chile, it will make us more generous, and help to close the gap between rich and poor". He is expected to meet victims of the dictatorship of the late Augusto Pinochet before leaving for Peru on Friday.

Thousands of believers were travelling from neighbouring countries to Chile to see the pope, whose programme includes visits to Temuco in the centre and Iquique in the north.

Asked about the planned protests by Osorno parishioners during Francis' trip to Chile, Burke said the Vatican had "maximum respect" for their right to do so.

The pamphlets mentioned the Mapuche indigenous people, who are asking the government to return their ancestral lands and give them some rights.

Francis, whose defense of refugees and migrants is well-known, is expected to address Chile's growing immigrant community when he travels Thursday to the northern city of Iquique, home to almost two dozen migrant slums.

Meanwhile, the pope also called for people to "listen" to migrants, whom he said "knock on the doors of this country in search of improvement, and in turn, with the strength and hope of wanting to build a better future for everyone".

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