Pope denounces indigenous violence in Chile Mass

2018-01-17 21:41
(Andrew Medichini, AP)

(Andrew Medichini, AP)

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Temuco - Pope Francis denounced the use of violence to achieve political gains as he on Wednesday travelled to the heart of Chile's centuries-old conflict with indigenous peoples, where several church burnings have been blamed on radical Mapuche factions pressing for their cause.

Hours after two more churches and three helicopters were torched, the pope celebrated Mass at a former military base that not only lies on contested indigenous Mapuche land but was also a former detention centre used during Chile's brutal dictatorship.

Leading about 150 000 people in a moment of silent prayer, Francis said the fertile green fields and snow-capped mountains of the Mapuche heartland in Chile's southern Araucania region were both blessed by God and cursed by man, the site of "grave human rights violations" during the 1973-1990 dictatorship.

"We offer this Mass for all those who suffered and died and for those who daily bear the burden of those many injustices," he said.

Francis also referred to the more recent violence that has flared in Araucania, Chile's poorest region. No one has claimed responsibility for the 11 firebombs that have damaged, or in some cases, burned churches to the ground in recent days, or the three helicopters that were torched overnight.

Read more on:    pope francis  |  chile

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