Pope Francis marries couple on Chile flight

Pope in Chile

On board the flight from Santiago to Iquique, the couple - who are already civilly married - explained to Francis that they had married in 2010 in Santiago but could not go through with their church ceremony afterwards because the building was destroyed in the 2010 quake in Chile. Protesters carried signs with messages reading "Burn, pope!" and "We don't care about the pope!"

Pope Francis' visit to Chile comes in the middle of great controversy as the Catholic Church in the region finds itself in significant decline following the revelation of a wave of sexual abuse cases involving priests.

The crew was gathering in the first-class section for the usual photo with the pope when flight attendants Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi revealed that they were a married couple.

Handout picture released by the Vatican press office Osservatore Romano showing Pope Francis (R) marrying Latam airline flight attendants Paula Podest (C) and Carlos Ciuffardi (foreground) during the flight between Santiago and the northern city of Iquique on January 18, 2018.

In the first such ceremony on a papal flight, Pope Francis performed a wedding for a steward and stewardess while flying between two Chilean cities on Thursday.

She said Francis offered a bit of advice to the not-so-newlyweds: "The wedding rings shouldn't be too tight, because they'll torture you, but if they're too loose, they'll fall off".

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The pope said Thursday: "This land is a land of dreams, but let us work to ensure that it also continues to be a land of hospitality".

Police used tear gas and water cannons to break up an anti-pope protest outside Francis' big open-air Mass in the capital, Santiago.

The pair only asked the Argentinian to bless their marriage, but he had other ideas. However they said they were unable to follow up with a church ceremony because of the 2010 quake that hit Chile.

"This is what's missing in the world - the sacrament of marriage", the Pope told the couple.

He also asked the Chilean government to go beyond negotiating "elegant" agreements with indigenous people and actually implement them. I have married 40 couples.

"That's why the marriage has worked out", the bride joked.

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