Arson attacks strike churches across Chile as Pope Francis visits indigenous homeland

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"The meeting took place in a strictly private way, and no one else was present: only the pope and the victims", Burke told journalists that evening.

The picturesque Araucania zone, "has a sorrow that can not be silenced, the injustice of centuries", the pope said.

Speaking in a Chilean shrine packed with young people on Wednesday, Pope Francis urged them to continue to be restless and idealists, and not to be put down by "know-it-all" adults who think the young have noble ideas in their hearts only because "they still have to grow up".

Pope Francis on Tuesday opened his visit to Chile by asking forgiveness for child sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church in the South American country. Francis a year ago acknowledged that the church had been slow to respond to allegations of abuse and said that "pedophilia is a sickness".

Pope Francis denounced the use of violence in the struggle for indigenous rights Wednesday, celebrating mass in a restive region of Chile hours after assailants firebombed churches and other targets.

Anne Barrett Doyle, the co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a group that tracks abuse cases in the church, said the pope's remarks in Santiago were "strong but familiar".

But the scandal has gripped the nation, prompting many politicians to criticize the Church in the staunchly Catholic country, where the crisis has scarred its credibility.

"Francis said he felt 'bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused by some ministers of the church", Green reports.

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"I would like to join with my brothers in the episcopate, because if it is right to ask for forgiveness and to support the victims with strength, we must at the same time commit ourselves to make sure that this does not happen again", he said.

Fury erupted when Bishop Barros was re-appointed in Osorno in southern Chile in 2015. Bishop Barros has been accused of protecting the Rev. Fernando Karadima, a former priest who was defrocked by the Vatican for abusing teenagers during the 1980s and 1990s. Karadima has denied the allegations and Barros said he was unaware of any wrongdoing. Claudio Melgarejo, a spokesman for some of the protesters, said that many just want to make Francis aware that all is not as well as the Chilean government would like him to believe.

After delivering his talk, Pope Francis met briefly with the country's bishops in the cathedral sacristy. They were joined by a woman the Vatican described as a "victim of rural violence" as well as a descendant of the German-Swiss colonizers who clashed for centuries with the Mapuche. Between 1995 and previous year, the number of Chileans who described themselves as Catholic dropped to 45 percent from 74 percent, according to a poll conducted by Latinobarómetro, which Ms. Lagos runs.

Five other churches had previously been hit by arsonists in Chile's capital Santiago.

Francis made those comments during a visit to President Michelle Bachelet's official Moneda Palace residence, drawing applause from pilgrims watching on giant screens in a Santiago park where he later celebrated an open-air mass for some 400,000 people.

His Holiness Pope Francis called for unity and warned against enforcing it through violence Wednesday while celebrating a mass in Temuco -the heartland of Chile's indigenous peoples.

Many years before the 1973-1990 military dictatorship, the land was taken from the indigenous Mapuche people.

A church in the capital was attacked during the night, causing minor damage. Vandals spray painted the words "complice" ("accomplice") and "Papa arde" ("burn, pope") on the facade of the church below a banner welcoming Pope Francis. Some of the pamphlets included the phrase, "The next bombs will be in your cassock" and spoke of the cause of the Mapuche indigenous group.

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