On a sunny afternoon last April I was leaning out a hotel window in Santiago, Chile, waiting for the Pope. A million other people were awaiting him too; in rows ten deep they lined the streets of a city that had been scrubbed and painted, and festooned with white-and-yellow papal banners. Armed guards patrolled the rooftops. A helicopter clattered noisily overhead.

When the Pope’s motorized glass bubble—papamobile, the Chileans called it—rounded the corner, the street seemed to erupt in a great cheer and a blizzard of confetti. But then, abruptly, almost in mid-breath, the thunderous cheers turned to boos and catcalls and whistles, for just behind the papamobile came a squat, ugly, armored car with a narrow slit window, and inside the armored car rode Gen. Augusto Pinochet, president of Chile.

I couldn’t help wondering what might be going through Pinochet’s mind: What’s the Pope’s secret? He just waves and the whole country goes into a swoon. The next night 80,000 Chilean teenagers filled a stadium to hear the Pope speak. A dark cloud of memory hung over the stadium, for in 1973 Pinochet had used it as a holding pen for dissidents. (Church-sponsored human rights groups estimate that 7,000 Chileans have been killed by government troops during Pinochet’s regime.) Sometimes, as a counterpoint to their adulation of the Pope, the teenagers broke out in spontaneous chants: “Go away, Pin-o-chet.”

“Love is stronger than hate,” the Pope kept saying. But hate has its champions in Chile as well. The night of the stadium rally I found myself in a student demonstration on Santiago’s main boulevard. It began as a simple holding-hands-we-shall-overcome-type of march. ...

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Philip Yancey
Philip Yancey is editor at large of Christianity Today and cochair of the editorial board for Books and Culture. Yancey's most recent book is What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters. His other books include Prayer (2006), Rumors of Another World (2003), Reaching for the Invisible God (2000), The Bible Jesus Read (1999), What's So Amazing About Grace? (1998), The Jesus I Never Knew (1995), Where is God When It Hurts (1990), and many others. His Christianity Today column ran from 1985 to 2009.
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