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Tens of thousands welcome Pope Francis to Chile

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Tens of thousands welcome Pope Francis to Chile

Pope given warm welcome in Chile
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Pope Francis has arrived in Chile and been given a warm welcome from President Michelle Bachelet and tens of thousands of well wishers.

The pontif will spend three days in the country before moving on to Peru.

Despite the festive atmosphere Francis comes at a time when support for the Catholic church in Chile is at an all time low.

A sexual abuse scandal and alleged cover-up combined with a growing secularisation in Chile are issues which Francis may address during his visit.

He is also likely to face protests from indigenous Mapuche who accuse the state and private companies of taking their ancestral lands. Francis is due to visit their region on Wednesday.

That aside scores of Catholic faithful were obviously delighted to greet the Pope on his first walkabout.

A planned mass on Tuesday in Santiago is expected to attract more than half a million people.