1.2 million turn out for Pope’s last Mass in Latin America

Pope Francis is headed back to the Vatican after a week-long trip to Chile and Peru

He left the Peruvian capital after holding a final Mass before more than 1.2 million faithful. This was a warm ending to an otherwise uneasy trip marred by violence and the fallout from a sex abuse scandal.

Pope Francis led the faithful in an open-air mass at Las Palmas Air Base in Lima. At the mass, he stressed the importance of having a church that’s “involved”.

Since landing in Latin America a week ago, the he has urged Catholics to engage the major social and political challenges in the country, ranging from the suffering and marginalisation experienced by indigenous persons, to gender-fuelled violence and corruption.  

The ever-engaging Pope also coined a new word for what he is calling for the Church to avoid: the “Johan Syndrome.”

The context was a Bible reading for the final Mass which tells the story of the Old Testament figure of Johan – who, charged by the Lord to proclaim his judgment on the city of Nineveh, instead becomes frightened and runs away. Francis said that the same thing often happens today, when believers see terrible things in their cities and are tempted to pull away.

Pope Francis instead encouraged us to be brave and become “saints of the 21st century.”

After a brief farewell ceremony at the airport in Lima, Pope Francis boarded his flight to Rome. He is expected to hold his customary news conference during the flight.

The Pope’s first public activity after his return to Rome is scheduled for January 24 - with the traditional Wednesday General Audience. The following day, he is expected to cross town to mark the end of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with a visit to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

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