Lima (AFP) – Pope Francis was preparing to wrap up his Latin American trip on Sunday with a mass at an air base where a million faithful were expected to hear him speak.
On the last day of a week-long trip that has taken him to six cities in Chile and Peru, the 81-year-old pontiff began the day by delivering a homily to 500 nuns, as well as meeting the bishops of Peru.
He warned the church officials: “Dear brothers, work for unity, do not remain prisoners of divisions that limit our vocation.”
The pontiff a day earlier had urged Latin America’s faithful to fight rampant violent crime against women, comments which came during a mass in Peru’s largest northern city of Trujillo.
“I wish to invite you to combat a plague across our Latin American region: the numerous cases of violent crimes against women, from beatings to rape to murder,” Francis told the crowd.
Half of the 25 countries with the greatest number of murders of women are in Latin America, according to UN Women.
While in Peru, the pope railed against “great business interests” for endangering the Amazon and its indigenous people and lashed out at corruption in politics.
“There is so much damage done by this… thing that infects everything,” Francis said. “And it’s always the poorest and the environment that get the short end of the stick.”
On Friday, he sounded a stark warning about the future of the rainforest and indigenous tribe members, saying they had “never been so threatened.”
Thousands of indigenous people had traveled to meet the pontiff from throughout the Amazon basin region of Peru, Brazil and Bolivia to meet the pope in the Peruvian city of Puerto Maldonado.
During the first part of his South American visit, in Chile, Francis highlighted the plight of vulnerable immigrants, offered an apology to victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, prayed with survivors of Augusto Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship, and called for protection of Chile’s persecuted indigenous people.