Pope Francis celebrated Mass Wednesday at the site of one of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s torture facilities, dedicating the service to victims of Pinochet’s rule.
Francis held the Wednesday Mass at Maquehue Air Base, a facility formerly used as one of Pinochet’s detention facilities where prisoners were tortured and sometimes killed, according to the Associated Press. Francis dedicated the Mass to those who suffered under the Pinochet regime between 1973 and 1990 and to the indigenous Mapuche tribe, from whom the land for the site was taken. Francis called the air base “the site of grave violations of human rights.”
“We offer this Mass for all those who suffered and died, and for those who daily bear the burden of those many injustices,” Francis said, according to the AP.
Roughly 150,000 people attended the Mass and joined Francis in silent prayer for peaceful resolutions to Chile’s current violent conflicts. Francis addressed the violence recently spurred on by Mapuche factions who have clashed with government forces in fights over their ancestral lands, as well as the series of recent church fire bombings, for which no one has claimed responsibility.
“You cannot assert yourselves by destroying others, because this only leads to more violence and division,” Francis said, according to The Daily Star. “Violence begets violence, destruction increases fragmentation and separation. Violence eventually makes a most just cause into a lie.”
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