Following the recent announcement of Pope Francis' visit to Peru on January 18-21 2018, the Peruvian Episcopal Conference (CEP) explained the reasons behind His Holiness' choice of two other cities: Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo for his tour.
In the case of Puerto Maldonado —a symbol of Peru's Amazon native communities— the interest owes to the southeastern city's struggles
with illegal mining, child labor, human trafficking, among other issues, CEP Vice-President Monsignor Miguel Cabrejos explained.
His Holiness' willingness to visit the area is also driven by its environmental protection
needs, a major issue for this gateway to the southern Amazon jungle.
"There is the whole ecology and Amazon theme. He [Pope Francis] published the encyclical […] on environmental care and responsibility. It is the first time a Pope [will] arrive in Puerto Maldonado," Monsignor Cabrejos pointed out.
In this sense, the CEP Vice-President noted the Amazon rainforest comprises as much as 60% of Peru's territory, and offers a major reserve of water.
The choice of Trujillo —on the other hand— is driven by the northern city's recent struggles with lashing "Coastal El Niño
" phenomenon floods, as well as "seven landslides that hit like seven plagues."
It is worth noting His Holiness sent a US$100,000 contribution
to Peru last March as an expression of love and sympathy with disaster victims.
Announcement of the Pontiff's visit is thus welcomed with joy and excitement in Peru, 32 years after late Pope John Paul II's first visit in 1985.
"The [Pope's] visit is cause for plenty of joy. It is an apostolic, pastoral visit for us to rejoice that will demand proper spiritual preparation from us," he concluded.