He also noted that the country has a lot of young people, who are "the most vital gift that this society possesses," and many saints, who have "blazed paths of faith for the entire American continent."
Pointing to the theme of his trip, "United in Hope," the Pope said Peru is a land of hope that invites its inhabitants to a unique unity, which he said is threatened not only by corruption, but also by environmental destruction.
Quoting his 2015 encyclical on care for our common home, Laudato si', he said "never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used."
"This is evident in the way that we are stripping the earth of its natural resources, without which no forms of life are possible," he said, adding that the loss of jungles and forests means not only a loss of species and resources for the future, but also a loss of "vital relationships that could end up altering the entire ecosystem."
To be united in hope, then, means both developing and promoting an integral ecology and listening to local populations and recognizing and respecting them as true partners in dialogue, since they know the land and the "the catastrophic effects produced, in the name of development, by many projects."
Francis said environmental degradation is also linked to the moral degradation of communities, and pointed to black market mining as a practice which is "is destroying people's lives."
"This whole process of degradation brings with it and encourages organizations operating outside of legal structures; these debase so many of our brothers and sisters by subjecting them to human trafficking (a new form of slavery), irregular employment and crime … and to other evils that gravely affect their dignity and, at the same time, the dignity of the nation."
Pope Francis closed his speech urging all those in positions of authority in every sphere "to bring your people and your land the security born of feeling that Peru is a place of hope and opportunity for all, and not just for a few."
By doing this, a new Peru will be forged which "makes room for people of 'all bloods', a land in which 'the promise of Peruvian life' can be achieved," he said, quoting from the Peruvian novelist José Maria Arguedas and the historian Jorge Basadre.
"I wish to renew in your presence the commitment of the Catholic Church, which has accompanied the life of this nation, in this joint effort to continue working so that Peru will continue to be a land of hope," he concluded.
The Pope met privately with Kuczynski following his address.
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