Before returning to Rome this evening after a nearly week-long trip to Chile and Peru, the pontiff told a one million strong crowd in Lima that, "politics is in crisis, very much in crisis in Latin America."
Pope Francis Arrives in Peru, President Requests Political Help
He made direct reference to the multiple corruption scandals between construction company Odebrecht and high-level officials in Latin America. He said that politics in the region is "more sick than well."
Peruvian president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was recently investigated by his Congress for allegedly receiving nearly US$800,000 in kickbacks from Odebrecht. Legislators came close to impeaching the president for "moral incapacity" for the Odebrecht allegations, but his term in office was saved by a coalition of assembly members wrangled together by former president Alberto Fujimori’s son, Kenji.
The younger Fujimori and Kuczynski deny any clandestine political maneuvering. However, it’s widely believed that Kenji saved the president from impeachment so that Kuczynski could then pardon Alberto from his 25-year imprisonment for crimes against humanity.
Demonstrators have fervently protested the pardon and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) which convicted Fujimori in the first place, is seeking to have the executive order overturned.
Kuczynski has called for Francis to bring the country together following an outcry over his pardon of former dictator Alberto Fujimori. "I hope the visit by Pope Francis puts us once more on the path to peace and dialogue," Kuczynski said in a tweet.
The pope closed today’s mass by saying, "Dear Peruvian brothers and sisters, you have so many reasons for hope ... There is no better way to protect your hope than to remain united."
During yesterday’s visit to Trujillo in northern Peru, Pope Francis spoke out against the country’s high indices of femicides and called for legislation against it, and also one “that repudiates every form of violence.”
He said that in Latin America, “violence against women cannot be treated as ‘normal,’ maintaining a culture of machismo blind to the leading role that women play in our communities.”
As in Chile, the pontiff has received sharp criticism in Peru for ignoring evidence of Catholic clergy members and lay people molesting children within the church.
"Francis here there is proof!" read a banner hanging from a Lima apartment. The phrase was next to a picture of Luis Figari, founder of the Catholic organization, Sodalitium Christianae Vitae. Figari, who maintains he is innocent, is scheduled for trial this year for sexual abuse of minors.