Pope Francis seeks to restore Chilean Church's image torn by sex abuse scandal

Pope Francis is currently in Chile for a papal visit that is reportedly part of an effort to restore the local image of the Roman Catholic Church which has been marred by mistrust over the sexual abuse scandals among clergy.

(REUTERS / Ivan Alvarado)Pope Francis waves upon his arrival in Santiago, Chile, January 15, 2018.

The pontiff's first trip to Chile on Jan. 15 came at a time when local Catholics were furious over his decision in 2015 to appoint a bishop close to a minister who was found guilty of abusing minors for several decades. A sex abuse victim said Pope Francis ought to use his papal visit to address the issue of the Church, The Associated Press relayed.

"It's not just time for the pope to ask for forgiveness for the abuses but also to take action," said clergy abuse victim Juan Carlos Cruz.

In addition, Cruz said abusive bishops should be jailed. If that is not possible, they could at least be removed from their positions.

When Pope Francis arrived in Chile, he was greeted by a crowd that was notably smaller compared to those that welcomed him into other Latin American nations he had visited. Some cheered him on while others carried signs bearing the message, "Stop the abuse, Francis!"

Days prior to his arrival, several churches in Chile were vandalized and attacked. Unknown assailants hurled firebombs at three churches in Santiago, and some left flyers warning that the next attack was for the pope, BBC reported.

In an interview with a radio station on Jan. 12, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said people are free to express themselves in a peaceful manner and that she found the church attacks as strange. So far, there were no reported injuries related to the attacks, and no one has also been arrested in connection with these incidents.

Pope Francis will be in Chile for three days and is set to celebrate Mass I Temuco, Santiago. He will travel to Peru on Jan. 18 for a three-day visit there.