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Pope says he goes to Chile, Peru as pilgrim of Gospel joy


A man displays vestments Jan. 8 to be worn by Pope Francis when he celebrates Masses in Santiago, Chile. On Jan. 15, Pope Francis will begin a seven-day visit to Chile and Peru. (CNS photo/Andres Pina, EPA)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Less than a week before embarking on a seven-day visit to South America, Pope Francis said he would go to Chile and Peru as a pilgrim and share the Gospel's message of hope and joy.

"I want to meet with you, look into your eyes, see your faces and experience God's closeness, his tenderness and mercy that embraces and consoles us," the pope said in a video message released by the Vatican Jan. 9.

The pope will be in Chile Jan. 15-18, visiting the cities of Santiago, Temuco and Iquique. He then will fly to Peru and from Jan. 18-21, he will visit Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.

In his message, Pope Francis said he was familiar with the history of both countries and was grateful for the people's faith and love for God, particularly in caring for those "discarded by society."

"The throwaway culture has invaded us more and more," he said. "I want to share in your joys, your sorrows, your difficulties and hopes and tell you that you are not alone, that the pope is with you (and) that the whole church embraces you."

Pope Francis also said he hoped to share with the people the experience of the peace that comes from God through Christ's resurrection, which is the foundation of peaceful coexistence in society and "heals our miseries."

"To feel God's closeness makes us a living community that is capable of moving with those who are at our side and take firm steps toward friendship and brotherhood. We are brothers and sisters who go out to meet others to confirm one another in the same faith and hope," the pope said.

The Peru-Chile trip will be Pope Francis' fourth to South America. In July 2013, he visited Brazil for World Youth Day. In July 2015, he traveled to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, and in September 2017, he visited Colombia.

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