Lima, Peru, Jun 19, 2017 / 10:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy See Press Office announced Monday that Pope Francis will travel to Chile from January 15 to 18 and Peru from January 18 to 21, 2018. In Chile the Holy Father will visit the capital of Santiago, as well as Temuco and Iquique. In Peru, he will visit the capital city of Lima, as well as Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.

"The program of the trip will be published in due course," the Vatican statement said. The Archbishop of Lima and Primate of Peru, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, affirmed in a press conference on Monday that "the Holy Father receives daily invitations from countries around the world. He has (chosen) to come to Peru and Chile. This makes us think of the enormous affection he has for our country."

The Pope "comes as a pilgrim of peace, justice, unity. It is an excellent opportunity for the whole Peruvian family to seek the best, knowing that the Pope brings a message of reconciliation and mission, that the Church is open to (everyone)," he added during the press conference, held in the headquarters of the Peruvian Bishops' Conference in Lima. "I call on you so that together we can prepare well for the presence of the Pope that will be a before and after in the history of the country," he concluded.

The President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski reiterated the archbishop’s comments, saying that the Holy Father’s visit “will mark a before and after” for Peru. "I think this visit is going to be an immense success," he added.

In Chile, the Apostolic Nuncio, Bishop Ivo Scapolo, announced the news, accompanied by Archbishop Santiago Silva, President of the Episcopal Conference of Chile (CECh), Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, Archbishop of Santiago, and Bishop Fernando Ramos, General Secretary of the CECh, who will be the General Coordinator of the papal visit.

In the announcement Bishop Fernando Ramos affirmed that "the Pope is an important person as Peter’s successor, and his word and testimony are always intended to (announce) the person of Jesus.” "In his visit he will help the church to reaffirm our following of Jesus," he added.

The announcement comes a few months ahead of Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to Colombia in September. The Church’s first Latin American Pope has already visited several countries in South and Central America, including Brazil in 2013, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay in 2015, and Cuba and Mexico in 2016. He has yet to visit his home country of Argentina as Pope. The last Pope to visit Chile and Peru was Pope John Paul II, who made pastoral trips to Peru in 1985 and 1988, and Chile in 1987.