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Pope Francis leaves Chile, Peru with consistent message of unity, dialogue

January 22nd, 2018 Posted in International News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

LIMA, Peru — Pope Francis tackled politically charged issues during his weeklong visit to Chile and Peru, decrying human trafficking, environmental destruction, corruption and organized crime in speeches before audiences that included political leaders.

At the same time, he called for unity, dialogue and coexistence in each of the two countries, which have been marked by political tension and sometimes-violent conflicts. Invoking Mary, he called for compassion, which he also demonstrated as he blessed a Chilean prisoner’s unborn baby and consoled people who lost their homes in devastating floods a year ago on Peru’s northern coast.

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Pope Francis says violence against women cannot be treated as normal

January 19th, 2018 Posted in International News Tags: ,

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PUERTO MALDONADO, Peru (CNS) — Society cannot look the other way and allow a culture that demeans the dignity of women to persist, Pope Francis said.

Speaking to the people of Puerto Maldonado, located in the region known as Madre de Dios (“Mother of God”), Pope Francis said it was sad to see how “in this land, which is under the protection of the Mother of God, so many women are devalued, denigrated and exposed to endless violence.”

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Amazonians need defense of life, earth, cultures, Pope Francis tells Peru

January 19th, 2018 Posted in International News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

PUERTO MALDONADO, Peru — Pope Francis called on indigenous people of the Amazon to work with missionaries and bishops to shape a church with an “Amazonian and indigenous” face.

The pope pledged the church’s “whole-hearted option for the defense of life, the defense of the earth and the defense of cultures” and called his audience to work together toward the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, which he has called for 2019.

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Pope praises Peru, Chile for serving those ‘discarded by society’

January 9th, 2018 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — 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.

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Chile, Peru eager for weeklong visit from pope

January 3rd, 2018 Posted in International News Tags: , ,

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TEMUCO, Chile — Sergio Catalaf’s son was just 3 days old when police arrested the Mapuche Indian leader, accusing him of terrorism. He and 10 other Mapuche leaders spent 14 months in preventive detention before being acquitted in October of setting fire to a farmhouse in which an elderly couple died.

Sitting in his simple wooden house, cradling the child on his lap as a light rain fell outside, Catalaf said he and others have been targeted unjustly because they are defending their people’s right to their ancestral territory.

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Deluge, floods, landslides in Peru leave more than 80 dead, 111,000 homeless

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Catholic News Service

LIMA, Peru — Felicita Chipana was at work when the Rimac River began to rise. By the time she got home, her kitchen was gone, swept away by floodwaters that left scores of families homeless on the east side of this sprawling capital city.

“We have no water, no electricity, and there are mosquitoes everywhere,” she said as a bulldozer cleared sediment out of the river channel below what remained of her rustic house.

Agents of the Peruvian National Police rescue people from floodwaters March 17 near the Rimac and Huaycoloro rivers in Lima. (CNS photo/Ernesto Arias, EPA)

Agents of the Peruvian National Police rescue people from floodwaters March 17 near the Rimac and Huaycoloro rivers in Lima. (CNS photo/Ernesto Arias, EPA)

Her granddaughter had developed a fever after being bitten by mosquitoes, and her daughter had taken the child to the hospital.

Picking her way over boulders carried down the river by the flood, Chipana joined neighbors, who had also lost their houses, as Catholic Church workers coordinating emergency aid noted their names and the number of people in their households.

All morning, dozens of volunteers from several Lima parishes had gathered at Santa Maria Parish in Huachipa, in the Diocese of Chosica on Lima’s east side, the area hardest hit by flooding in March. They sorted and bagged donations of food and water for emergency distribution, setting aside huge sacks of clothes and bedding for later.

Unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean off Peru is causing heavy rains on the usually arid coast, swamping cities that have poor drainage and destroying wood or mud-brick houses not built to withstand a downpour.

Rain in the Andes Mountains has triggered landslides, sending water and sediment cascading down rivers like the Rimac, blocking roads and sometimes burying vehicles.

As of March 23, 85 people were reported dead, 270 injured and 20 missing in the deluges. Nationwide, 111,000 people had lost their houses and another 670,000 had suffered damage to their homes.

Along the desert coast, flash floods raged down riverbeds that had been dry for years. Near Chipana’s house, floodwaters had swept away two trucks.

A video of a woman struggling out of a maelstrom of water, mud, tree trunks and rubble near a town south of Lima drew hundreds of thousands of viewers on YouTube.

“Urban neighborhoods have been built with no planning,” said Rocio Sanchez of the Chosica Diocese office of Caritas, the church’s humanitarian aid and development agency.

After landslides on the hilly east side of Lima in 2012, local governments stopped giving people title to lots in hazardous areas. But many neighborhoods have been built on unstable hillsides or in flood plains. Most residents of those neighborhoods are people who migrated to the city from rural areas, or, like Chipana, those migrants’ children.

Father Teofilo Perez, pastor of Santa Maria Parish, estimated that 750 of the 75,000 families within the parish boundaries have been affected. Some were stranded until the water level in the Rimac River dropped.

“People don’t take the necessary precautions,” said Father Perez, who became pastor in February, just before the worst of the flooding. “They’ve been building their homes closer and closer to the river.”

Father Perez grew up in Chiclayo, on Peru’s arid northern coast.

“As a boy, I never saw rain,” he said. Now his home town is partly underwater, along with other major coastal cities.

Farther north, farmers in Piura braced themselves last year when an El Nino was expected to pelt the coast with heavy rain. Instead, farmers battled drought.

So when rains came in January, people were grateful, said Manuel Alburqueque, director of the Jesuit-run Rural Research and Promotion Center (CIPCA, for its Spanish initials), in Piura.

But now nearly one-third of the people affected by the disaster live in Piura, where 10 hours of storms March 22 left the city awash. Peru’s weather service predicts that the rains will continue into April.

The Peruvian government has earmarked at least $800 million for reconstruction, which will include rebuilding nearly 200 bridges and repairing more than 3,700 miles of highway.

Periodic flooding has devastated Peru’s coast for thousands of years, but Alburqueque hopes that after the most recent disaster, residents and government officials will pay attention to zoning maps, to avoid rebuilding in high-risk areas.

“We need to build sustainable cities,” he said.

In Lima, Chipana is not sure what will happen to what’s left of her house.

“I’d like to move away from here,” she said, her eyes filling with tears. “But I have nowhere else to go.”

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Life revolves around water in Lima’s poor neighborhoods

February 13th, 2012 Posted in International News Tags: , , , ,

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LIMA, Peru — Of all the parts of her tiny, wooden house on a parched hillside at the city’s edge, Emilia Lazo Campos is proudest of the bathroom. The tiles gleam despite the dust. There’s even a shower — in case Lazo and her family ever get water service.

But the most important part, to her, is the dry latrine — an “ecological bathroom,” as she calls it — which requires no water for flushing, has no odor, attracts no flies like her old latrine did, and will eventually produce compost that she can use for a small garden.

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Analysis: Latin America’s indigenous want voice in use of their land

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LIMA, Peru — Most of the environmental battles Brother Paul McAuley fights seem endless, mainly conflicts between indigenous communities and loggers operating on their lands or oil companies that have spilled toxic substances into their waterways.

Sometimes, however, there’s a victory. In mid-October, the Peruvian government overturned a law that would have allowed water from one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River to be diverted to irrigate export agriculture operations on Peru’s desert coast, a measure critics called a political-patronage boondoggle.

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