AMERICA/PERU - The Bishops’ spokesman: "Pope Francis enhanced local religious traditions"

Monday, 22 January 2018 pope francis   pastoral visit   indigenous   popular worship   faith   evangelization   mission   human rights  

Lima (Agenzia Fides) - An invitation to return to their cultural and family roots and to live faith with joy, as "grateful servants": this is, in short, the message that Pope Francis left to Peru. This is what Jesuit, Fr. Victor Hugo Mirando, spokesperson of the Episcopal Conference of Peru, says in an interview with Agenzia Fides. The intense apostolic visit ended with a mass with over a million faithful at an air base in Lima.
Tracing the three days of the apostolic visit, Fr. Miranda emphasizes to Fides the "very powerful message" constituted by the fact that "a leader like the Pope placed the tortured indigenous peoples in Puerto Maldonado among the important issues in the agenda of the country and the Church". The Church and the country, he adds, "if they want to be faithful to what the Holy Father said, they will have to change". To the nation, Francis said that it is not tolerable to continue exploiting them, and to the Church - always by their side, but only locally - asked for greater participation in their cause.
On the second day, in a Trujillo hit by the floods, Francis told them not to "lose hope, while he criticized the authorities' lack of attention towards the people's problems", said the spokesman. On Friday he had warned against corruption. To the clergy and to the religious world "he offered motivating words, as when he recommended to accompany the people closely, who know how to distinguish between officials and true pastors".
Finally, on Sunday, in Lima, in the shrine of the Lord of Miracles, Francis thanked the contemplative religious women for their lives, inviting them to pray for "the unity of the Peruvian Church". A request that Don Miranda interprets "in the light of the political division that also involves the Church". "The Pope - points out the Bishops’ spokesman - invites not to feel superior to others".
Popular religiosity was the object of attention in the Marian act carried out in De Armas Square. There the Pope blessed the sacred images with which the Mother of God of the north of the country is venerated, "affirming that God and Mary who - recalls Don Miranda - speak the dialect of the people and always look for ways to be close to each village, to each family". "This theme is present in Bergoglio’s formation", explains Fr. Miranda, who is also a Jesuit, "through the theology of the people". In Peru, sacred images are very important: "They are the object of patron celebrations where the priest appears only in the mass".
Through them, "the people feel that God walks by their side. The pontiff, then, gave recognition and enhanced these traditions", underlines Don Victor Hugo. To the religious and also to the children of "The Little Prince" orphanage, Francis recommended to go back to the roots from which everyone was born, to the young "he advised to trust God, because He has faith in you", he concludes. (SM) (Agenzia Fides, 22/01/2018)

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