AMERICA/PERU - 30 years after the last visit of a Pope in the Country

Friday, 12 January 2018

Lima (Agenzia Fides) - "Peru is a country where the arrival of Pope Francis generates great expectation for its very high religiosity. This is something that the Pope will be able to verify, and I think he will be very happy", says to Agenzia Fides Peruvian political analyst Luis Benavente, director of the research Vox Populi company, that on behalf of the Faculty of Pontifical and Civil Theology of Lima, conducted a survey in the country according to which almost 80 percent of the Peruvians interviewed consider religion important.
In a conversation with Agenzia Fides regarding the two visits made by Saint John Paul II to Peru 30 years ago, Benavente recalls that they occurred in the so-called "lost decade": "the eighties were an economic disaster due to the lack of investments, corruption, terrorism and inflation - explains the analyst -. John Paul II came in that context and at the time his arrival was characterized by great hope". "Today - he adds - there is institutional disorder due to corruption and political instability which is added to the crime that makes us lose hope, despite Pope Francis’ trip. The Country has a chronic need for hope and I believe that religion and the Pope can respond to this request better than politicians who have proved to be incapable".
Ángel Sánchez, president of the Peruvian Federation of Journalists, commenting to Fides the fact that the Supreme Pontiff reaches young people especially through the use of social networks, explained that "in the case of St. John Paul II, communications were not so open as now.
Information is much faster, direct and close, so the feeling you get for Francis' journey is that a friend is coming, a brother is coming home, unlike John Paul II who seemed more distant".
Meanwhile, speaking on the same topic, Ricardo Sánchez-Serra, journalist and former director of communications of the Archdiocese of Lima, told Fides that John Paul II came to Peru after the attack he suffered, so there was great expectation in this regard. "Now with social networks, we are close to the Pope and so there may be a lack of interest in going to see him - he points out - there will always be young people who want to approach, touch and receive his blessing, the Pope is the Pope, but at the time of John Paul II it was possible to see him only on television. Today you can see him live on media and social networks. Surely it was a different generation and other contexts, which is why it is difficult to make comparisons".
Sánchez-Serra explains to Fides a historical similarity between Pope Francis and Saint John Paul II: "In front of Paul VI, who was perceived as a more distant Pope, Pope John Paul II communicated a feeling, with his gestures, his smile, his closeness, 'he was known as the itinerant Pope' - continues the journalist -. And now the image is similar. Benedict XVI was a theologian, profound, German Pope with another personality, now Francis is perceived as more charismatic. My generation was able to enjoy the visit of John Paul II", concludes Sánchez-Serra.
According to estimates by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, the arrival of Pope Francis in Peru should mobilize a total of 816,000 visitors during his tour in the cities of Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo. According to the organizers, 1.2 million tickets have been distributed for the mass that Pope Francis will preside in Lima on Sunday 21 January. (D.B.) (Agenzia Fides, 12/1/2018)