TRUJILLO, Peru – On the second day of his visit to Peru, Pope Francis spent some 20 minutes traveling on the only paved highway in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of the northwest Peruvian town of Trujillo, a road that runs close to one of the areas hit hardest by the floods and mudslides of 2017.
Trujillo Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos said before the visit that the pope had picked Buenos Aires “as the center and symbol of this meeting with those affected.”
The visit began with little girls of the neighborhood bringing the pope flowers, and with Francis trying on a typical Peruvian hat he had been given.
He then mounted the popemobile for a drive of more than 20 minutes between this completely cordoned off avenue lined with people and the archbishopric of Trujillo, where he was to have lunch.
What Francis could see was one of Trujillo’s poorest neighborhoods, but decorated with welcoming posters plus white and yellow balloons, the colors of the Vatican flag.
However, the pope was unable to see the true effects of the devastating floods and mudslides that left some 3,000 displaced persons and 500 homes knocked down.
Francis was driven down narrow streets and through the valleys, always standing and blessing the afflicted, while the people in one of the plazas sang hymns and some 60 thoroughbred Peruvian Paso horses were seen along the way.
The Argentine pontiff came to this neighborhood after saying Mass on the beach at Huanchaco, where he recalled the “painful consequences are still felt in so many families, particularly among those that are still unable to rebuild their homes.”
He noted that “in the moment of darkness” when El Niño struck, the “solidarity and generosity” with which everyone helped each other were like candles lighting the way – they helped each other with open hands, ready to ease one another’s pain and share whatever they had left in their poverty.”